Having featured in a memorable tie in the opening match of the one-day series at Trent Bridge, England and Sri Lanka will be battling for ascendancy when they face each other in the second match of the series at Birmingham. Both teams had ups and downs in the previous game, but clung on to avoid defeat. Of course, England would be the more euphoric of the two sides considering the manner in which the game ended, with Liam Plunkett hitting a last-ball six. At the same time, the end result was a tie, which means both teams finished equal on points, irrespective of who had the upper hand towards the end.
Sri Lanka will take mixed feelings into the second ODI. There was a stage in the game when they had things under control, but they allowed the match to slip away, and almost lost it in the end. Their bowling and fielding under pressure was really poor, and that is one aspect of the game they need to work on. Skipper Angelo Mathews was brilliant at the top with two wickets, but he could not complete his quota due to injury. Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal ended up conceding a few too many runs while Farveez Maharoof also did not make much of an impression. In fact, Mathews apart, Seekkuge Prasanna was the only one who held things together.
The batting effort of Sri Lanka too needs a lift. Although they finished with a competitive total in the first ODI, it was thanks to fighting efforts by Mathews and Prasanna. So, the same men who were to star with the ball, had made the crucial contributions with the bat as well earlier. The top three of Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis will need to stand up for the team's cause. Also, Dinesh Chandimal seems to be developing a habit of getting out after getting into the 30s and 40s. He must come out of the rut. It will also be interesting to see what Sri Lanka do with Upul Tharanga, who is batting too low in the order.
England will look back at the first ODI in two ways -- one that they fought back from an impossible position to earn themselves a tie, and two that they put themselves in such a difficult position. There are no two ways about the fact that they would be elated with the efforts of Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler. To pull the team out of a crisis situation, like the one England found themselves in the opening match needed a special effort, and Woakes and Buttler indeed came up with one. And, to think that Woakes might not even have played had Ben Stokes been fit. Woakes was excellent with the ball too in the match.
The overall bowling performance by England was good. While Woakes got a couple of key wickets, he found good support in David Willey. And, while Adil Rashid wasn't among the wickets, he was highly economical. England's top and middle order had an off-day of sorts in the opener, so they must be looking forward to make amends. In Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, they have four highly qualified batsmen. Even if a couple of them come good, England could pose serious trouble to the Lankans. Skipper Eoin Morgan played a fighting knock under pressure, which kicked off the fightback.
--By A Cricket Analyst