England vs Sri Lanka: Tom Curran shines with four wickets but rain denies hosts in third ODI

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Fans try to evade the rain at Bristol on Sunday (AFP via Getty Images)
Fans try to evade the rain at Bristol on Sunday (AFP via Getty Images)

Rain saved Sri Lanka from a sixth defeat on the spin to end their sorry tour of England.

England put in a ruthless display, bowling Sri Lanka out for 166, before heavy rain brought an early end to Sunday’s proceedings in Bristol. Following a T20 whitewash, England won the ODI series 2-0 thanks to victories at Chester-le-Street and the Kia Oval.

Despite hinting that they might experiment, England were in remorseless mood. There was no debut for George Garton, or chances for Tom Banton or Liam Livingstone. The lone change saw Chris Woakes return for the rested Mark Wood.

And when he won the toss, Eoin Morgan opted to bat first, setting the game on the same course as the first two of this series. Sri Lanka had another calamitous powerplay, losing two wickets to each of Woakes and David Willey, and – unlike at the Oval – never really recovered. Tom Curran picked up four wickets and, after totals of 185 and 241 in the first two matches, Sri Lanka managed just 166.

The innings received a 40-minute interruption for rain when Sri Lanka were eight down, and a major downpour during the innings break ended any prospect of a return.

It was a sad way for a poor tour to end. Despite decent crowds being allowed for the ODI series particularly, the whole event has been supremely low-key, with the eyes of the sporting world elsewhere, and you could have forgiven members of the 7,500 – 50 per cent capacity – crowd for feeling a little short-changed. England are a well-drilled unit in white-ball cricket, but they have not been challenged at all by Sri Lanka this month.

As has become routine, England ran through the top order in the powerplay. Kusal Perera, the captain, played on to Woakes, then Willey pinned Avishka Fernando lbw on review and had Pathum Nissanka caught behind. Dhananjaya de Silva, so impressive at the Oval, tamely top-edged to fine leg.

Woakes, who finished with sensational series figures of 20-8-46-6, and Willey, the man of the series, handed over to the Curran brothers and, after Sam did the trick at the Oval, Tom took centre stage. He has struggled in international cricket recently, and his four wickets here were more than he had managed in his previous 11 ODIs combined.

He bowled better, but was grateful for some poor Sri Lankan batting as Oshada Fernando chipped straight to mid-off and Wanindu Hasaranga pulled out to the deep in his first spell and, in his second, Chamika Karunaratne and Binura Fernando were caught behind. Jonny Bairstow’s take to dismiss Karunaratne was a one-handed beauty.

Having played straight with his team selection and bowling changes (Moeen Ali was unused again), Morgan kept his experimentation for his fields, which were curious. He posted four slips in the 34th over, but also regularly went without a single fielder in front of square saving one as Adil Rashid bowled his leg spin.

After the rain delay, Rashid – who has not been at his best – picked up his first wicket of the series, thanks to an excellent, opportunistic stumping from Bairstow to dismiss Dushmantha Chameera.

The innings, and the tour, finished in fittingly farcical fashion, with Asitha Fernando run out after a massive mix-up with Dasun Shanaka, who had been holding a shaky fightback together. It was a sorry end to a forgettable few games.

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