England and Sri Lanka head from the very north of the country to the capital of it to continue their ODI series on Thursday as the two sides battle it out for more World Cup Super League points in the second ODI at The Oval.
England drew first blood in the series up in Durham on Tuesday and can seal the series under the lights in London. Sri Lanka will be hoping to finally get off the mark for this tour and take the series into a decider in Bristol on Sunday.
I think in the cold light of day England will not be happy with their performance in the opening ODI. They might have won the game, and if you look at the scorecard it looks like a relatively comfortable and facile win but that just highlights how good they are in this format because they didn’t play well at all in the match. It was almost like a certain football match on the same day was more important all round and England were more bothered about being finished in time for that than to respect the game.
It started well for England when they bowled very well with the new ball but they allowed Sri Lanka to escape in the middle of their bowling innings, although a bout of sloppy fielding didn’t help the bowlers to be fair to them. Then with the bat it was full throttle and get it done as quickly as possible. They almost for themselves into a little bit of strife in that run chase, but such is their depth with the bat they were able to navigate the choppy waters satisfactorily.
I have more than an air of sympathy with the Sri Lanka players that remain on this tour. The three batsmen who were caught outside the bubble and have gone home have left those who have remained in a near impossible situation as there simply isn’t enough batting for Sri Lanka to win matches. The best they can hope for is to be competitive and to be fair to them they were in that opening match, despite the obvious gulf between the two sides.
In fairness to the Sri Lanka bowlers, they have proven their worth throughout the series without getting the results they have deserved. The same can’t be said of their batsmen though and you would imagine the best they can get out of the last two matches of this tour is for a couple more players to stand up and be counted and at least offer some form and confidence ahead of the India series later in the month.
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England are set to welcome Jason Roy back into their side for this match. It would appear as though Liam Livingstone’s place in the ODI side was short lived. You would imagine England will use these two matches to rotate their bowlers and ensure everyone has had a bowl but remains fresh for the Pakistan series next week.
Sri Lanka don’t really have a lot of options when it comes to changing things but they will be hoping that Dhananjaya de Silva has recovered from his back spasm to be able to come into the side and at least give them a bit more experience.
I’m not convinced the last two matches of this series are going to be easy to bet on because I expect England to dominate them now there is no football to concern them. In saying that, if there is a ground where Sri Lanka might get something it is here because the pitches at The Oval offer up a little more turn than the ones they have played on so far. That will undoubtedly bring their spinners into the game a little bit more.
One of those spinners is Wanindu Hasaranga and it is his performance which catches my punting eye this week. He has a performance line of 40.5 which feels quite high but when you think he batted at five in the previous match and did so very effectively making 50 with his side up against it, perhaps that isn’t high enough when you consider his leg spin is his strongest suit. I think he’ll get a lot of assistance from this Oval pitch especially with the sun expected to burn down on it on Sunday. Hasaranga has three ODI 50s and they have come in his last five innings. They followed a 47 so he can clearly bat in this format. His bowling is better than his figures have suggested so far on this tour and on a pitch which might just play to his strengths I think he can cover that 40.5 line.
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