Sri Lanka seek to convert slim pickings to series consolation

Tuesday, 23 October 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


ESPNCricinfo: Maybe the rains have done Sri Lanka a favour. At least there is no chance England can beat them 5-0, as India and South Africa have done over the past 21 months. But, although the visitors have been comfortable victors – as expected – in the matches that have been completed, there are slivers of hope for Sri Lanka. 

Firstly, the middle order has been semi-competent – Dasun Shanaka producing Sri Lanka’s best innings of the series in the fourth ODI, while Thisara Perera has maintained his good 2018 form with the bat. Akila Dananjaya’s bowling continues to impress as well, even if Sri Lanka are hugely over-reliant on him for breakthroughs through the middle overs. After the Asia Cup debacle, even these minor positives are worth celebrating.

For England, the fifth ODI will be an exercise in not taking their boots off opposition throats and trialling the fringe players in their side, as they seek to confirm who deserves a place in the World Cup squad, which must be named in April. So dominant as their middle order been in this series that it seems, as long as England don’t rest too many key members of their batting line-up, Sri Lanka will have to score 30 or 40 runs more than the par score in order to have a chance of denying the visitors a 4-0 victory.

Rain, as usual, has a chance of preventing a full match. Thunderstorms are expected at some point in the afternoon. If a match cannot be completed on Tuesday, the remainder will be completed on Wednesday.

England have a clutch of players they will want to try out – Joe Denly, Sam Curran and Mark Wood among them. Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes may make way, with Liam Plunkett looking for a game as well having joined the squad late following his wedding. Jonny Bairstow has been ruled out of the remainder of the white-ball leg of this tour after damaging ankle ligaments while playing football last week. He will be assessed in the lead-up to the Test series next month.

nEngland (possible): 1. Joe Denly, 2. Alex Hales, 3. Joe Root, 4. Eoin Morgan (capt.), 5. Jos Buttler (wk), 6. Moeen Ali, 7. Sam Curran, 8. Tom Curran, 9. Liam Plunkett, 10. Adil Rashid, 11. Mark Wood

nKusal Mendis’ awful form may pave the way back for Upul Tharanga. Dushmantha Chameera or Nuwan Pradeep may also be in the reckoning for a game, in place of Kasun Rajitha, whose lack of awareness of the fielding restrictions in the fourth match cost Sri Lanka the vital wicket of Joe Root. nSri Lanka (possible): 1. Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2. Sadeera Samarawickrama, 3. Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 4. Kusal Mendis, 5. Dhananjaya de Silva, 6. Dasun Shanaka, 7. Thisara Perera, 8. Akila Dananjaya, 9. Amila Aponso, 10. Lasith Malinga, 11. Dushmantha Chameera

The pitch looks good for batting. Khettarama is naturally the most spin-friendly venues among the ODI grounds in Sri Lanka, so expect some turn as well. Rain will likely interrupt or delay play at some point.