England restrict subdued SL before washout
Sri Lanka 248 for 9 (Chandimal 62, Mathews 56, Mendis 53, Woakes 3-34, Plunkett 3-46) v England – Match abandoned
Fifties to Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews were the sparks in a Sri Lanka score of 248 for 9, but gloom ultimately defined the day, after rain washed out play four overs into the reply. The back end of Sri Lanka’s innings had been played in drizzle, which persisted through the lunch break and for some time afterwards. Although the weather relented to allow the teams to resume play, it returned at about 4pm and play was called off by 5.30pm. England had lost Alex Hales, for a golden duck, and were 16 for 1.
As at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston, Sri Lanka batted first on a pitch that provided bowlers with only modest assistance. And in Bristol, just like in the first two games, partnerships were severed by canny quicks whenever the visitors threatened to assume control of the match. In the ten overs following the 35th, Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 40 runs, and squandered the base their half-centurions had provided.
England’s bowlers were disciplined, rather than dominant, but they were supported athletically in the field. More than one Sri Lanka batsman was provoked to frustration. Liam Plunkett and Chris Woakes claimed three scalps apiece, the former more effective with the new ball, the latter quite good with the old.
The early wicket of Danushka Gunathilaka weighted down Sri Lanka’s start, as England bowled four overs for eight runs inside the Powerplay. This was to the particular frustration of Kusal Perera, whose more ambitious strokes failed to pierce a lively England infield. Mendis kept the score moving at one end, as he creamed the ball square on the off side and maintained a strike rate of almost a run a ball, but overall progress was nevertheless laboured. In the ninth over, when Perera aimed an expansive hoick over the leg side off Plunkett, only to send the ball high and into the wicketkeeper’s gloves, Sri Lanka were scoring at less than four an over. The score at the Powerplay’s end was 34 for 2.
So began the rebuild, while England’s bowlers pulled back their lengths slightly on what was turning out to be a slower-than-expected surface. Mendis batted as he has through the tour, eyes glinting and wrists whipping quickly as soon as a poor ball was glimpsed. He bludgeoned two Chris Jordan short balls for four and six at the end of the 18th over. The four just cleared a climbing mid-on. The six sailed comfortably over the deep midwicket rope. Next over, Mendis completed a second ODI fifty with the 78th run of the innings, but then his panache forged his downfall. Attempting to repeat his pulled six against a taller, faster Plunkett, Mendis managed only to put the ball in the palms of deep square leg.
Chandimal, who had massaged the ball around the infield while Mendis was in, assumed a more positive outlook as he and Mathews manoeuvred Sri Lanka away from 88 for 3. Mathews ventured a low, straight six off Plunkett in the 26th over, but Adil Rashid’s legspin was the more frequent victim of the pair’s belligerence. Rashid’s seventh over went for seven, and his next for 10, before Morgan took him out of the attack. The seamers returned the pair to a more measured approach, though they did continue to score smartly enough, relative to the situation: their 80-run stand was the heftiest in Sri Lanka’s innings, and came off 87 balls.
Having set themselves up at a reasonable 165 for 3 after 35 overs, the following ten overs were a period of significant decline. Chandimal, then Seekkuge Prasanna, were out in consecutive overs, both caught aiming swipes across the line. Mathews moved to his second half-century in three games in the company of Upul Tharanga, but top-edged a leg-side heave off Jordan to depart for 56 off 67 in the 44th over. Though the match situation was well-poised for Dasun Shanaka to showcase his hitting range, yet he attempted a non-existent single to short third man, and found himself run out cheaply again, by a sharp Joe Root. On this occasion, though, a case could be made that Shanaka’s bat was actually back inside the crease when the bail was out of its groove.
Tharanga then made the best of having to bat with the tail. The four he struck through midwicket at the beginning of the 46th over would be the last of the innings. He cobbled together a 33-ball 40, while Woakes in particular bowled expertly to his field, at the death. He took out the top of Tharanga’s middle stump with his final ball, before Sri Lanka’s last-wicket pair swung optimistically through the final over.