There has been rain, rain and more rain in Sri Lanka, so much so that the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have been forced to release a statement after fans questioned the logic behind a tour to the country during monsoon. In whatever cricket that has been on offer, England have been clinical, as is expected of a world number 1 side, with two comfortable wins in the second and third One-Day International after the first game was abandoned. In the second ODI in Dambulla, England scored 278/9 in their 50 overs before intermittent rain reduced Sri Lanka’s target to 172 from 29 overs which they fell short by 31 runs. In the third ODI in Pallekele the hosts were kept to 150/9 in a rain-truncated 21-overs-a-side contest which was chased down by England in 18.3 overs, their captain Eoin Morgan scoring his second half-century of the series. With rain expected to play spoil sport yet again, the visitors will be keen on wrapping up the series when the two sides face off in Pallekele on Saturday. They have ticked most boxes in the two ODIs. Jason Roy, after falling for a duck in the second outing, came back well in the third smashing a sparkling 26-ball 41 with three fours and two sixes to get his side off to a rollicking start. Jonny Bairstow, Morgan, Joe Root and Ben Stokes have all been among the runs in the two games while the bowling also has looked solid with Tom Curran, Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid giving a good account of themselves at various stages.
Morgan, in particular, has been the fulcrum of the England batting unit. He was facing some criticism coming into the tour having not scored a lot of runs in recent months but with scores of 14*, 92 and 58* in the three outings he has silenced a lot of his critics. The England captain will hope for his side to come up with the goods in the remaining matches as well. For Sri Lanka, on the other hand, problems seem to be brewing from all departments. Their batting unit has failed to fire as a unit while the bowling has also largely been patchy. Niroshan Dickwella (36 in 20) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (35) got the hosts off to a brisk start in the previous ODI but the middle-order once again failed to capitalise as Sri Lanka ended with an under-par score.
Dickwella was critical of his and team's performance after the third ODI insisting, he needed to carry on after getting the starts. “I can't be satisfied with my performance,” he said after the game. “A lot of times I get 30 or 40, but only about one in five games do I get 70 or 80. Even though I've got starts, I haven't capitalised and turned them into big innings." Sri Lanka's bowling led by Lasith Malinga has been good and they will hope to put up a better fight come the fourth ODI on Saturday. There are thunderstorms predicted yet again in Pallekele but the ground boasts of an excellent drainage system, so we can expect some play possible despite rains.
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First Published: October 20, 2018, 9:36 AM IST