England vs Sri Lanka: Hosts complete series with another resounding win
Joe Root’s graft and Jos Buttler’s power set up England’s emphatic 122-run success over Sri Lanka in Cardiff as they finished 3-0 winners in the five-match ODI series.
Root’s 93 was the most substantial of three half-centuries – James Vince hit the other, in his first one-day international innings – as England set a target of 324 for seven.
Then the home attack made short work of the tourists’ response, David Willey bagging a career-best four for 34 and Liam Plunkett taking three for 44.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 202 with 7.2 overs unused, despite the best efforts of Dinesh Chandimal (53) – and England went above them into fifth in the International Cricket Council rankings.
Vince (51) and Jason Roy began well on a showery morning, after Sri Lanka won the toss.
But as Danushka Gunathilaka recorded career-best figures of three for 48, it was not until Buttler (70) brought the impetus in a stand of 109 with Root that England were able to profit properly.
On a pitch which gave Sri Lanka’s two spinners enough help to get through their 20 overs for 100 runs, Root’s was something of a throwback contribution.
Coming the day after he had talked up the chances of a first England ODI double-century in the offing for one of the current top six, Root had to battle for his six fours from 106 balls.
Buttler stayed on the modern message, though, with seven fours and a six from 45 until he was yorked by Chaminda Bandara for the left-armer’s first wicket on debut.
Jos Buttler added 70 as England posted another high total on Saturday (Getty)
Root could not take advantage of a late slice of luck, dropped in the deep on 90, and fell short of his century in the final over when he was bowled having a mow at Nuwan Pradeep.
Vince had been a seamless replacement for the injured Alex Hales in an opening stand of 67 with Roy.
From the outset in only his second ODI, despite having to start his innings twice after a half-hour stoppage for rain, Vince matched England’s man-of-the-moment shot for shot.
They ran especially well too, although one misjudgement would have been costly for Vince on 15 had Gunathilaka managed a direct hit after a diving stop at gully.
Instead, it was Roy who went first – getting underneath an attempted big hit at Suranga Lakmal to be well caught by Kusal Perera at deep midwicket for 34, leaving his series average in three figures.
Dinesh Chandimal continued his fine form but Sri Lanka struggled again (Getty)
Against spin, though, England had a relative struggle.Vince had just completed his half-century from 55 balls when he appeared to misread a straight ball after going walkabout against Gunathilaka, and was stumped.
Eoin Morgan hinted at much better, as he so often has in his eight-month run of international innings without a 50 – which he extended to 21 when he holed out to the cover sweeper off Gunathilaka.
Root lost his next partner Jonny Bairstow, Gunathilaka’s third victim when he chipped a catch to long-on. Buttler changed gear for England, though, to give them all the leeway they needed with the ball.
Sri Lanka’s reply suffered an early blow when Willey had Kusal Perera lbw on the back foot. Then a brilliant piece of out-fielding from Bairstow, a flat throw from the leg-side deep, was enough to run out Kusal Mendis as he tried to scamper a second.
Gunathilaka fell two short of a fourth ODI 50 when he too was pinned lbw, this time by Plunkett from round the wicket. When Plunkett doubled up with the big wicket of Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, yorked, England were on the home straight.
Upul Tharanga registered a rare failure against these opponents, missing a drive at Adil Rashid to go for a golden duck, and Sri Lanka were already on track to end their campaign with a whimper. So it proved.
The admirably consistent Chandimal kept the hosts waiting with a defiant half-century, his fourth in succession.
But there was little worthwhile support as Plunkett and Willey hogged the spoils – the latter with three late wickets in only seven balls, notably bowling Chandimal – as England bought themselves some extra Saturday evening celebration time.