Joe Root may anchor England victory charge
Lacklustre Lankans face a tough test against power-packed batting unit
Starts 10am Wednesday
England's one-day team have enjoyed a superb 2018 and they should end this year’s 50-over schedule with a convincing series victory over a Sri Lanka side whose recent ODI record makes for dismal reading.
The Lankans’ last bilateral series triumph came in Ireland in 2016, since when they have won just 14 of their 56 ODIs.
Eight of those victories came against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, while another two were in dead rubbers against a depleted South Africa side in August.
Their Asia Cup campaign lasted all of three days as they were bowled out for 124 and 158 in heavy defeats to Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Angelo Mathews was sacked as captain and dropped from the one-day squad, despite being the top runscorer on either side in the South Africa series, and the Lankans could be overpowered in every department by England.
South Africa, Pakistan and India have inflicted 5-0 ODI series defeats on Sri Lanka in the past couple of years and England’s form – barring a shock defeat to Scotland in June – suggests another rout is imminent.
Eoin Morgan’s side have been keeping good company in one-day cricket this year, beating Australia 4-1 away and 5-0 at home, winning 3-2 in New Zealand, and coming from behind to defeat India 2-1 in July.
David Willey is injured and Liam Plunkett misses the first three games as he is getting married but England have decent fast-bowling depth with the dependable Chris Woakes, Sam and Tom Curran, and speedsters Mark Wood and Olly Stone.
The white-ball performances of spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid provide another major boost to England’s chances on the Teardrop Isle.
Moeen has taken 25 wickets in 19 matches with an economy rate of five runs per over this year while Rashid has claimed two or more wickets in eight of his last ten outings, producing a snorter of a leg-break to bowl the well-set Virat Kohli in the series decider against India.
And then there is the batting. While Sri Lanka lack power, consistency and experience – especially now that Mathews has been exiled – England’s unit is studded with matchwinners and they broke their own record with a total of 481-6 against Australia at Trent Bridge in the summer.
Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and skipper Morgan are some of the most powerful hitters around but Bairstow suggested England might temper their aggressive approach in Sri Lanka, depending on conditions.
In Joe Root they have the ideal batsman to anchor an innings and he demonstrated his ease against the spinners with back-to-back centuries in the second and third ODIs against India.
Unbeaten knocks of 113 at Lord’s and 100 at Headingley were outstanding efforts from Root, who warmed up for the series opener in Dambulla with 90 not out against a Sri Lanka Board 11 in Colombo last week.
His previous experience of the island came in 2014 when a 5-2 one-day series defeat prompted England to sack Alastair Cook as captain just two months before the World Cup.
Despite the team’s struggles, Root prospered in Sri Lanka with scored of two, 42, 48 not out, 36, 104 not out, 55 and 80 in the seven-match series and he should be backed to lead the way for England once again.
He made 121 against Sri Lanka at the 2015 World Cup and since that tournament he averages more than 62 in ODIs, reaching 50 in 29 of his 60 innings.
England to win 4-1
2pts 11-4 bet365
England to win 5-0
1pt 7-1 Sky Bet
J Root top England series runscorer
2pts 11-4 bet365
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