The first ODI was abandoned because of rain, and the second was also hit by rain, but not before England had scored 278-9 and kept Sri Lanka to 140-5 in 29 overs – good enough to go 1-0 up in the five-game series.
For England, Eoin Morgan was the batting star with a 91-ball 92, with Joe Root’s support act of 71 in 83 balls equally crucial. But Sri Lanka might just have fancied their chances of staying in front of the DLS par score. That it didn’t happen was because Chris Woakes and Olly Stone did exceedingly well upfront.
Woakes for the first three wickets of Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal and Dasun Shanaka early on his way to returns of 3-26 from five overs, while Stone bowled fast and got the wicket of Niroshan Dickwella to return 1-23 from six.
“I think the two Warwickshire boys really set the tone from the start – Chris Woakes is a very experienced campaigner and one of our MVPs in the last few years,”. He is an awesome guy to have in a team and we are very lucky to have him. Olly coming in on debut [it was his second game, but he didn’t get to bowl in the first] showed exactly what he has shown so far on the tour. He bowled with an extra yard of pace and a great attitude. Obviously, it’s a great start to the series for him and hopefully we can build on this today,” said Morgan, the Player of the Match, afterwards.
From the batting point of view, Morgan and Root did the bulk of the work, while Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler got 20s and Adil Rashid chipped in with a few at the end. But 278 is well below where everyone has become accustomed to seeing England.
“I would like to think we have a few more gears than we showed today,” said Morgan. “It is obviously early on in the series. We will take a win, we got enough to get a win today, but ultimately, we won’t be that satisfied with the performance.
“It was not a bad start to the series. We have had a bit of an awkward start with training and then the first game with the rain that we have had. I wouldn’t say it has been our best game. I thought batting in the first innings, we managed to scrape something together. We probably should have gone past par score. We ended up just scraping towards that, but in essence, I don’t think it is a bad run out for us.”
Morgan recently made headlines when he said that he would be happy to drop himself from the XI if it helped the team, especially at the 2019 World Cup at home. The innings on Saturday suggested that he need not walk that route.
“I was extremely scratchy for the first 30 balls, which isn’t a surprise, I am not a great starter. But having someone like Joe Root at the other end rotating the strike, building the partnership, is always a huge help. We really enjoy batting together and when we do get a partnership it is normally quite substantial. We would have liked for us to kick on towards 300 today and Sri Lanka came back into the game beautifully and we got just above a par score,” he explained.
“Myself and Joe, in particular, found a way to score on these particular wickets. I thought Lasith (Malinga, 5-44) came back and bowled particularly well at the end, which we found challenging, which is a nice flag-up early in the series. He obviously still has a lot to offer as an experienced and very senior bowler, so we will need to work on that going forward.”