Brief Scores: England 324/7 in 50 overs (Joe Root 93, Jos Buttler 70; Danushka Gunathilaka 3-48) beat Sri Lanka 202 in 42.4 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 53, Danushka Gunathilaka 48; David Willey 4-34, Liam Plunkett 3-44) by 122 runs
England consolidated their fifth spot in the One-Day Internationals rankings as David Willey and Liam Plunkett ran through Sri Lanka’s batting line-up after Joe Root (93) and Jos Buttler (70) laid the foundation for England to record another victory. With pride and a chance of pipping England in the ODI rankings at stake, Sri Lanka had a decent start with the ball before Root and Buttler powered the hosts to a total in excess of 300. With the bat, Sri Lanka were never in the contest, despite Danushka Gunathilaka (48) and Dinesh Chandimal’s (53) contributions. England recorded a comprehensive 122-run win to blank Sri Lanka 3-0 in the five-match series.
In chase of England’s 324, it wasn’t until the sixth over that Sri Lanka managed to find the fence. Chris Woakes and Willey pushed the Sri Lankan openers – Kusal Perera and Gunathilaka – onto the backfoot from the onset of the innings. In his 15-ball stay at the crease, Perera struggled to cope with the seam movement and eventually perished in the fifth over, not before using up a review for a fairly-straightforward leg before shout.
Gunathilaka gave Sri Lanka some purpose for the second time on the day, as he and Kusal Mendis forged a positive, scoreboard-ticking stand for the second wicket. They looked set to make a match of the last encounter on tour before they took on Buttler’s arm in their bid to scamper through for two runs. Unfortunately for the two batsmen, Buttler’s throw was flat enough for Bairstow to whip the bails off and catch the diving Mendis short of his crease.
Plunkett, an able first-change pacer for England, carved Sri Lanka’s line-up open with two quick wickets. Gunathilaka’s gritty stay was brought to an end by a close LBW call which the batsman couldn’t review. Plunkett’s second wicket however, was a bigger blow as he cleaned up Angelo Mathews with a precise yorker, reducing the visitors to 105 for 4 in 21 overs. Adil Rashid turned the screws further by dismissing Upul Tharanga for a first-ball duck, thereby leaving Chandimal, one of the few Sri Lankan batsmen who has shown some semblance of form in the recent past, with a lot of work to do.
Chandimal scored his fourth half-century of the series and put on brief stands with Dasun Shanaka, Sekkuge Prasanna and Suranga Lakmal but his resilience made little difference to his team’s chances as Sri Lanka were left to 134 off the last 60 balls. Willey ended Chandimal’s fight with a hint of reverse-swing in the 41st over before Pradeep was sent packing in Willey’s following over, to bring down the curtains on Sri Lanka’s chase.
Earlier, a 109-run fifth-wicket stand between Root and Buttler nullified Gunathilaka’s efforts with the ball in the middle-overs as Sri Lanka’s grip on the fixture loosened with every shot that the England duo played. At 182 for 4 in the 33rd over, Sri Lanka would’ve hoped to restrict the hosts to a modest total despite having Root batting on 50 at one end. Buttler walked out to ensure Sri Lanka’s joy was only momentary.
Chaminda Bandara, Sri Lanka’s 29-year-old left-arm fast-bowling debutant, was at the receiving end of a devastating batting display by the two batsmen as they aimed to find a new gear that would push England towards a massive total. After having reached his fifty of 61 balls, Root identified Buttler as the more dominating batsman between them and did exceptionally well to constantly turn the strike over. Buttler took the chance to further establish his acumen as a game-changing limited-overs batsmen, taking apart the pace trio of Lakmal, Bandara and Pradeep in his stroke-filled knock. The 100-run stand came off just 80 balls. Buttler eventually fell for a 45-ball 70, giving Bandara his maiden ODI wicket.
Root threw his bat around further to inch towards a century and took England past 300. The Sri Lankan pacers’ ineffectiveness allowed Woakes to walk in and chance his arms too. Pradeep denied Root the chance to get to three-figures but that was a small consolation as England posted a total that was enough for them to end the series with another victory.