After dominating India in the home series, a confident England landed in Sri Lanka to take on the hosts, which were dealing with consistency issues after being knocked out of the Asia Cup. Angelo Mathews was axed from the ODI setup and there were a lot of nervy moments in the Sri Lankan side.
England, on the other hand, have been in phenomenal form in ODIs, and they hit the ground running with intent and purpose right from the very first match. Rain did play its part in the ODI series, but Eoin Morgan’s men never looked hassled in the series.
After the first match of the series was washed out due to rain, Captain Eoin Morgan led England’s charge in the second match with an impressive innings of 92. England posted 278 in 50 overs and then intermittent shows reduced the score and changed the equation for the hosts, but an inspired spell by Chris Woakes put down the shutters on them. England galloped away to an easy win by 31 runs.
Rain hogged all the headlines once again in the third ODI and the match was reduced to a 21-overs shootout. Sri Lanka batted first and huffed and puffed to 150 in 21 overs. England, who are full of stroke makers, did not have to break a sweat as they sauntered across the target in the 19th over with 7 wickets in hand. Adil Rashid applied the brakes and picked up wickets in the first innings and was adjudged man of the match.
273 runs were scored in the first innings by the hosts and then, as if it were all scripted, rain came down and England had to chase a revised target, which they did with ridiculous ease. Captain Eoin Morgan was the star with the bat once again as he dug in on a tacky wicket and took his side across the line. With the series in the bag, the teams moved across to Colombo for the dead rubber and England made a number of changes to their playing XI. Sri Lanka produced a perfect batting display to post 366 runs on the board to earn a consolation victory.
For England, Captain Eoin Morgan was their best player in the series. Jason Roy also got off to decent starts and failed to convert them into good scores. Also, the performance of the spinners, especially Adil Rashid was hugely impressive as were Jonny Bairstow and the seam bowlers.
Having found some momentum in the final ODI, Sri Lanka looked in good nick as the teams entered the one-off T20I match. Thankfully, the rains stayed away and on a rather sluggish pitch, England posted 187 batting first.
Captain Eoin Morgan opened the bowling with Joe Denly and the occasional leg break bowler wreaked havoc by picking up 4 wickets and effectively ending Sri Lanka’s chase. They ended with 157 and went down without a fight.
The performance of Joe Denly with the ball was certainly a soothing sight for England supporters and he could well have put his name right up there as far as the World Cup squad is concerned.
Earlier this year, England had defeated India, but there were plenty of rough areas and this series against Sri Lanka – a side which had shunted away South Africa, was never going to be easy.
England found a brilliant troika of spinners in Jack Leach, Moeen Ali, and Adil Rashid, who really produced impressive numbers during the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
In the first match, England were in deep trouble but debutant Ben Foakes really played a special innings to see the side post 342 runs in their first innings.
The spinners did the job for England to dismiss Sri Lanka for 203 runs. Keaton Jennings found form and smashed a century to see England post a target of 460 runs for Sri Lanka to win the game. Moeen Ali and Jack Leach picked up seven wickets between them to see England win the first Test and take 1-0 in the three-match series.
With a win and confidence under their belt, Sri Lanka hopped over for the second Test match at Kandy. Captain Root won the toss again, batted first and stuttered along to 290 on a track which was not easy by any means. Jos Buttler played an attacking innings of 63 runs.
However, Ali, Leach and Rashid combined yet again picked 8 wickets as the hosts edged past England with a score of 336. Captain Joe Root produced his best innings in overseas conditions to notch a much-needed hundred to ask Sri Lanka to chase a target of 300 runs. Jack Leach was once again the star of the show and picked up a five-wicket haul to see England win the game by 57 runs and clinch the three-match Test series.
Sri Lanka looked completely out of sorts when the team arrived for the final Test match. Joe Root won another important toss, batted first and this time, it was the turn of Jonny Bairstow to make a comeback and slam a century. England scored 336 runs in their first innings. Sri Lanka batting once again failed to post a competitive score on the board. In their second innings, England were dismissed for 230 runs, the target of 326 runs for Sri Lanka was never going to be easy.
The England spinners did most of the damage and picked up eight wickets as Sri Lanka finished with 288 to hand a whitewash to the visitors, which was a historic one.
The biggest takeaway for England from this series was Ben Foakes as a keeper and a solid batsman and a match-winning spin contingent for sub-continent conditions. The likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Keaton Jennings also put in crucial performances for England with the bat.
In the bowling department, Jack Leach, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali really produced the goods with the ball in hand. The spin troika proved to be lethal combination for England in the three-match Test series.
England certainly looks the best side in limited-overs cricket at the moment. Eoin Morgan and co. will certainly be favorites for 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. On the other hand, Sri Lanka have been inconsistent and struggling to find form. The Islanders will really need to improve their game with bat and ball in order to make an impression in the coming World Cup.
Sri Lanka will now tour New Zealand to play two Tests, three one-day internationals and one-off T20 game. The series is slated to begin from 15th December. On the other hand, England will make a trip to the Caribbean to play three Tests, five ODIs followed by three T20s.