Chris Woakes and Joe Root guide England to ODI win over Sri Lanka

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·3-min read
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Chris Woakes celebrates another wicket (Getty Images)
Chris Woakes celebrates another wicket (Getty Images)

England’s day began with Chris Woakes presenting Joe Root with a special cap on the occasion of his 150th One-Day International, before the two men combined to secure a simple win over Sri Lanka.

There were various stages of this game when it appeared as though England would have the job done plenty sooner – at least in time for the football. But Woakes and Root are not the sort to take risks to get things done in a hurry.

Woakes set up the victory. With Sri Lanka invited to bat first, he took two wickets in the powerplay then returned to take two more, breaking the only partnership of note (99 between Kusal Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga). A fourth ODI five-wicket haul eluded him, but he passed 150 wickets in the format on his way to remarkable figures of 10-5-18-4.

Allied with the three for 44 from David Willey – who reached a milestone of his own, 50 caps – Woakes helped bowl Sri Lanka out for 185 inside 43 overs.

Root, who has waited 10 months to play his 150th ODI, scored an unbeaten 79 from 87 balls to manage the chase after a flying start became a mini-collapse. Jonny Bairstow had smashed 43 in 21 balls, but England stumbled from 54 for one to 80 for four – and it should have been worse, with Moeen Ali, in at No6, dropped first ball off Dushmantha Chameera.

None of this bothered Root, who settled into a stand of 91 with Moeen. He passed 50 for the 50th time in ODIs, keeping his average above 50 and passing 6,000 ODI runs in the process. It was vintage limited-overs Root, with just four boundaries and the area between point and third man absolutely peppered. He still pottered along at a strike-rate north of 90, yet never really looking like getting out. Sri Lanka tried an lbw review and there was a top edge not far from fine leg but generally he was comfortable.

After a 3-0 whitewash in the T20s last week, Sri Lanka are there for the taking in this series. They sent three players home yesterday for breaching Covid-19 protocols, and handed out three debuts today. They had their all-rounders Dasun Shanaka and Hasaranga at No4 and 5, perhaps three players too high each.

They were grateful for Hasaranga, though, after Woakes had Pathum Nissanka caught at midwicket with a slower ball and Shanaka caught behind, with Willey snaring the debutant Charith Asalanka between times. Even though captain pereira, the only remaining senior batter, had flown out the blocks, they were 46 for three.

He and Hasaranga – who took down Adil Rashid – batted well for 20 overs to rebuild, but Woakes returned, and sparked the second collapse, of four for seven. Hasaranga top-edged to the deep, then Woakes also got Dhananjya Lakshan, edging to slip. Moeen got Ramesh Mendis lbw, and Willey made Perera pull to the man on the fence.

Sri Lanka’s tail managed to scramble 33 more runs, despite some truly shambolic running. They survived one absurd mix-up, but not a second, with Sam Billings and Sam Curran combing to see off Chameera. Billings finished the innings with his second stunning direct hit from the deep in as many games, to run out Praveen Jayawickrama.

Bairstow and Liam Livingstone – opening in the absence of the injured Jason Roy and Dawid Malan, away for family reasons – flew out the blocks, as if they were eyeing records. Livingstone chipped to mid-on and, after seven boundaries, Bairstow chopped on. The excellent Chameera had the uncomfortable Eoin Morgan caught behind, then Billings well pouched at first ball.

Not for the first time, England were grateful for Root, who set about unobtrusively shoring things up. Moeen was eventually bowled by Chameera, but out came Curran to hit the winning runs.

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