Sri Lanka put on a magnificent all-round performance to thrash England by 219 runs (D/L) in the fifth and final ODI match at R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
After powering their way to 366/6 in 50 overs, their highest score at the venue and against England in one-day international cricket, the Lankan bowlers managed to restrict England to 132/9 when rain interrupted the match in the 27th over, a formality which prevented a full-match throughout the series which England won, 3-1.
England’s chase was derailed within the first 10 balls as seamer Kasun Rajitha castled Jason Roy in the very first over while Dushmantha Chameera, who came in for rested Lasith Malinga, produced two peaches in the next over to leave England tottering at 4 for 3.
Chameera’s first delivery nipped away off the deck to have Alex Hales caught brilliantly at first slip for a golden duck and three balls later, stand-in captain Jos Buttler also edged behind for a duck.
Joe Root, England’s most senior batsman in the absence of their regular skipper Eoin Morgan, became Chameera’s third victim when he was caught smartly at backward point in the 8th over.
Ben Stokes fought valiantly with cramps to delay the inevitable along with Moeen Ali scoring 67 and 37 respectively but Akila Dananjaya made short work of the England’s lower middle order, recording figures of 4 for 19.
Earlier, the Sri Lanka’s top four batsmen, all posted 50+ scores in the same innings for the first time in 20 years against a rejigged bowling line-up as the visitors gave some game time to some of their fast-bowling reserves.
Niroshan Dickwella and Sadeera Samarawickrama constructed the country’s best partnership for any wicket this year, adding 137 runs in 115 balls for the first wicket as they laid the perfect foundation after electing to bat first on a placid surface.
Samarawickrama, started off excellently, clobbering Mark Wood over cover and then smashing Sam Curran for three boundaries while Dickwella went about his business with scoops, swings across the line as the hosts raced to 72 in the first powerplay.
Both the batsmen rotated the strike with ease, running twos and striking the occasional boundary on a rather hot and sunny afternoon.
Samarawickrama fell after registering his maiden ODI fifty as Moeen Ali, sneaked one through the defenses of the 23-year old right-hander to clip the stumps, but the fielders, bowler nor the keeper weren’t sure but the replays confirmed the dismissal.Dickwella continued to milk the lackluster, rejigged England bowling attack by sweeping, reverse-sweeping cleverly before giving it away on 95 as Ali got his second wicket in the 26th over.
Chandimal brought out his switch-hit pretty early to unsettle the spin-duo and continued the good work of the openers. He even reverse-slogged Adil Rashid for six over cover-point boundary early in his innings and slammed Liam Plunkett to the biggest corner of the ground.
Skipper Chandimal and Kusal Mendis added an invaluable 102 runs for the third wicket in just 76 balls as the hosts launched brilliantly in the middle overs.
Mendis, who had not scored an ODI fifty since ICC Champions Trophy last year and had scores of 5,0,0,0 in his last four innings batted with utmost confidence this time around as he smothered the England bowlers with proper shots, timing it aerial through the line and pulling it over deep square-leg to smash 6 sixes.Mendis fell looking for quick runs, so was Dasun Shanaka, the hero from last match as Sri Lanka reached the 300-run mark in the 42nd over.
Chandimal, vice-captain Thisara Perera departed in two consecutive balls of Tom Curran as Sri Lanka started to shift gears.
Akila Dananjaya and Dhananjaya De Silva managed to add crucial 38 runs in 26 balls including 15 off Tom Curran’s final over.
The only T20I match between both teams will be played on 27th October (Saturday) at the same venue.