Sri Lanka seek to convert slim pickings to series consolation

Adil Rashid claimed the scalp of Kusal Mendis
Sri Lanka v England, 5th ODI, Colombo October 22, 2018

Big Picture

Maybe the rains have done Sri Lanka a favour. At least there is no chance England can beat them 5-0, as India and South Africa have done over the past 21 months. But although the visitors have been comfortable victors - as expected - in the matches that have been completed, there are slivers of hope for Sri Lanka. Firstly, the middle order has been semi-competent - Dasun Shanaka producing Sri Lanka's best innings of the series in the fourth ODI, while Thisara Perera has maintained his good 2018 form with the bat. Akila Dananjaya's bowling continues to impress as well, even if Sri Lanka are hugely over-reliant on him for breakthroughs through the middle overs. After the Asia Cup debacle, even these minor positives are worth celebrating.

For England, the fifth ODI will be an exercise in a) not taking their boots off opposition throats and b) trialling the fringe players in their side, as they seek to confirm who deserves a place in the World Cup squad, which must be named in April. So dominant has their middle order been in this series that it seems, as long as England don't rest too many key members of their batting line-up, Sri Lanka will have to score 30 or 40 runs more than the par score in order to have a chance of denying the visitors a 4-0 victory.

Rain, as usual, has a chance of preventing a full match. Thunderstorms are expected at some point in the afternoon. If a match cannot be completed on Tuesday, the remainder will be completed on Wednesday.

Form guide

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England WWWWW

In the spotlight

Niroshan Dickwella was not in the Asia Cup squad, and has had a point to prove in this series, even if he hasn't gone all the way to making it. His aggressive 36 in the 21-over match last Wednesday helped Sri Lanka make a rollicking start, but he didn't quite get them all the way to a good score. He changed tack for Saturday's game, and tried a more patient approach with 52 off 70. On both occasions, there remained the feeling that Dickwella was leaving the job half done, given the kind of form he is obviously in. Sri Lanka's coaches have been trying to impress upon him, that when he gets the kinds of starts that he has got, he needs to ferry the team to a position of greater strength before he gets out.

England have managed to keep winning while dodging the showers in Sri Lanka, but several batsmen have been left in want of a workout. Jos Buttler has faced only 25 balls, with one innings in four matches, and would surely be keen on some middle time in Colombo. There are many who advocate pushing Buttler up the order in limited-overs internationals, to make full use of his destructive power, something England have shown flexibility on in the past. One way they could ensure him extra opportunity might be for captain Eoin Morgan - England's star batsman with 195 runs for once out in the series - to rest himself, as he has done on previous occasions.

Team news

England have a clutch of players they will want to try out: Joe Denly, Sam Curran and Mark Wood among them. Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes may make way, with Liam Plunkett looking for a game as well having joined the squad late following his wedding. Jonny Bairstow has been ruled out of the remainder of the white-ball leg of this tour after damaging ankle ligaments while playing football last week. He will be assessed in the lead-up to the Test series next month.

England (possible): 1 Joe Denly, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood

Kusal Mendis' awful form may pave the way back for Upul Tharanga. Dushmantha Chameera or Nuwan Pradeep may also be in the reckoning for a game, in place of Kasun Rajitha, whose lack of awareness of the fielding restrictions in the fourth match cost Sri Lanka the vital wicket of Joe Root.

Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 2 Sadeera Samarawickrama , 3 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Amila Aponso, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Dushmantha Chameera

Pitch and conditions

The pitch looks good for batting. Khettarama is naturally the most spin-friendly venues among the ODI grounds in Sri Lanka, so expect some turn as well. Rain will likely interrupt or delay play at some point.

Stats and trivia

  • Dickwella has made at least 20 in 11 of his last 25 ODI innings. From those 11 occasions, he has crossed 50 only three times, and has a high score of 69.

  • In general, Sri Lanka's batsmen have been woeful at putting together big scores. No one has made an ODI hundred this year - the last came from Angelo Mathews in December.

  • Joe Root needs 64 runs to reach 5000 in ODIs. If he gets there in Colombo, he will be the fourth-fastest batsman to the mark, behind Hashim Amla, Viv Richards and Virat Kohli

  • Adil Rashid has been the most impressive bowler of the series so far. He has taken an equal-highest tally of five wickets, at an average of 17.4.


"The top order and middle order has to click to help us to get to a big total. As a batting unit, we did well in the last match. We didn't lose by a big margin, so we're satisfied with the effort."
Sri Lanka opener Niroshan Dickwella

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