England aim to maintain momentum against Sri Lanka

16 October 2018 08:49 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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After winning the second one-day international of the five-match series against Sri Lanka by 31 runs in a rain-affected encounter, Eoin Morgan and his team will aim to take the momentum into the third ODI.

A steady 92 from Morgan and a disciplined performance from his seamers saw England bring up a 1-0 lead in the ODI series with a win in the second match. The first ODI had been washed out. The focus now shifts to Pallekele, where the teams will hope for the first full match of the series.

England, who are No.1 on the MRF ICC ODI Team Rankings currently, have many of their boxes ticked ahead of the third ODI. Experienced batsmen like Morgan and Joe Root made strong half-centuries.

The visitors' seam-bowling department, comprising of Chris Woakes and debutant Olly Stone, also showed promise in testing Asian conditions. Left-arm spinner Liam Dawson dished out an impressive performance as well, returning 1/26 in his six-over spell to support the fast bowlers.

Dawson, however, will not participate in the remainder of the tour and has returned to England after sustaining a right side strain. All-rounder Joe Denly, who is already a part of England's Test squad for the tour, has been named as a replacement.

Their blistering opening combination hasn't quite brought its A-game yet, however, and the visitors will want to tick that box too in Pallekele. 

A slight concern for England is the performance of the spin-twins Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali in the second ODI. While Rashid bowled just two overs and gave away 15 runs, Ali was wicket-less through his 10-over spell.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will be pleased with Lasith Malinga's figures of 5/44 in the second ODI. The veteran seamer denied England the chance to finish the innings on a high. His scalps also included Jason Roy and the English skipper, who, at one point, looked primed to notch up his 12th ODI century.

All-rounder Thisara Perera was making a good fight of it with a 49-ball 44*. The left-hander smoked three sixes in his innings, stitching an unbeaten 66-run stand with Dhananjaya de Silva for the sixth wicket. He was bankable with the ball as well, returning figures of 1/37 in his seven-over spell.

De Silva, who went toe to toe with Perera in the game, will also be integral to Sri Lanka's efforts.

While the all-rounders have looked impressive, Sri Lanka's batsmen, particularly the top order, have not pulled their weight. Their top three batsmen were dismissed for single-digit scores and they have been unable to build substantial partnerships in the Powerplay. The team have failed to cross 250 in five of their last seven ODIs and will be keen on improving that stat.

They will also miss the services of Kusal Perera who has been ruled  out with a quad strain. He will be replaced by Sadeera Samarawickrma in the playing XI while Kusal Mendis will come into the side to fill the vacancy.

Their bowling department too has showed flashes of brilliance, but struggled to add consistency to their craft. They did make a strong comeback in the second ODI after the 30th over, though, to restrict England to a total below 300.

All three departments must click simultaneously for the hosts to give the No.1 ODI side a run for their money. They have the talent – it just a matter of application.

Joe Root (England): England's red-ball skipper has had a breakthrough year in 50-over cricket, cementing his place in the side with assertive batting displays. Root has scored three hundreds and five fifties in the last 12 months, accumulating 896 ODI runs at an average of 64. The right-hander's contribution at No.3 will be vital for the visitors, whereas his early wicket will be key for Sri Lanka.

Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka): The pacer is in the twilight of his international career right now, but still has the ability to uproot a stump or two, both at the start and death of an innings. His five-wicket haul kept the hosts alive in the second game, and he will be important in keeping England's swashbuckling batting order at bay. The seam-bowler surpassed 500 international wickets in the game and has recently expressed the desire to represent Sri Lanka at the ICC World Cup 2019.

Conditions

There is threat of rain in Pallekelle, with the possibility of a thunderstorm at the time of the toss and during the game. However, if we do get a full match, it is likely to be a run-fest – Sri Lanka scored 306 runs batting first in an ODI against South Africa last month.

Squads:

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Upul Tharanga, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett (last two games only), Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

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