England went into the fifth and final one-dayer of the series against Sri Lanka on an unbeaten note, and ensured their record will not change. With the series already in the bag, they could afford to relax. But, the beauty of this current English ODI squad is that they just hate losing. As so, they went into the Cardiff one-dayer all guns blazing, and came out with their reputation further enhanced with yet another smashing performance. Sri Lanka, in contrast, continued to stumble. Barring a couple of doughty efforts, no one has really stood up for them, and that did not change at Cardiff.
Batting first, England excelled right through, and never allowed the Sri Lankan bowlers to settle in. Joe Root led the way with a well-compiled 93, setting up the hosts for a big total. He hit only six fours during his innings, but he rotated the stroke so well that the run rate never suffered. He was unlucky to miss out on yet another hundred. Root was aided by the fact that the openers Jason Roy and James Vince got the team off to a confident start. Vince went on to cross his fifty while Roy disappointingly fell in the 30s.
While the top three set up the innings nicely for the hosts, the finish by Jos Buttler was the defining point of the innings. Buttler, who has played some unbelievable knocks over the years, came up with yet another blinder, dazzling his way to an unbeaten 70 from 45 balls, a knock which featured seven fours and a six, at a strike rate of 155.55. Before Buttler entered the scene, it seemed England would settle for a score somewhere in the region of 300. But, the England wicket-keeper’s late blast ensured that Sri Lanka chased 325.
Going into the series, Sri Lanka’s inexperienced and under-talented bowling attack was seen as their major weakness, and it led to their downfall in the final one-dayer as well. The debutant Chaminda Bandara went for 83 in his 10 overs, and that pretty much epitomised the visitors’ woes. The other bowlers also struggled, leaving Sri Lanka will little chance of making an impression. Suranga Lakmal went for 65 in his 10, Nuwan Pradeep for 59 in his 8 and Seekkuge Prasanna for 52 in his 10. Danushka Gunathilaka was the surprise factor with 3 for 48, but it wasn’t enough to stop England from firing on.
For Sri Lanka to chase down 325, they needed to get off to a flying start. But, that just did not happen. Dinesh Chandimal came up with yet another fifty while Gunathilaka scored as many runs as he gave away with the ball. The rest merely made up the numbers. Kusal Mendis and Dasun Shanaka got starts but failed to carry on while Kusal Perera, Angelo Mathews and Upul Tharanga all failed to make any impression. David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid all starred with the ball for the hosts, and the Sri Lankan batsmen could not stand up to the tough challenge.
--By A Cricket Analyst