England’s miserable tour of Sri Lanka ended in a tame defeat as they were soundly beaten by 87 runs, in the seventh one-day international in Colombo.
A Tillakaratne Dilshan-inspired effort led Sri Lanka to an imposing 302 from their 50 overs – of which Dilshan scored 101 – while he also picked up three key wickets, dismissing Moeen Ali, Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan. Sri Lanka’s comprehensive victory handed them a satisfying 5-2 series win ahead of their tour of New Zealand, which begins next week.
England’s chase never got going with struggling captain Alastair Cook continuing to grapple for form. After surviving an lbw call on his first delivery he was then dropped at slip just a few balls later, but he managed to graft his way to 32 – aided by a sweetly timed six – before eventually being caught off the bowling of Suranga Lakmal. His sluggish 49-ball innings which did not help England’s pursuit of a testing target, was an indication of a man playing for his own cause rather than the team’s.
But Cook could not be solely blamed for what was another torrid batting performance. Moeen’s first ball duck was closely followed by an ungainly slog from Hales to deep long-on, as Dilshan snared two wickets early on.
James Taylor then gloved a Lakmal delivery for just two, and when Morgan was trapped in front by Dilshan having scored four, England were in total disarray at 78-5.
Lynch pin of the series, Joe Root, managed to arrest the slide somewhat in an innings of 80, milking the bowling first with Jos Buttler (23), and later Chris Woakes (34), to make the scoreline more respectable, but they never looked likely to threaten victory. And after Root was dismissed with the score on 192, England were consigned to defeat five overs later, succumbing for just a further 23 runs.
England’s bowlers also failed to impress, their poor death bowling leading to a flurry of late runs, allowing Sri Lanka to surpass the 300 mark. James Tredwell failed to restrict the batsmen in the middle overs – leaking 50 runs from his seven overs – while pace bowlers Woakes gave away a combined 131 from their 18 overs, taking just one wicket.
However, Chris Jordan and Moeen managed to stem the tide, Jordan picking up two wickets for 55 – including the crucial dismissal of Dilshan – while Moeen’s spin bowling also earned him two scalps, as he conceded 39 runs from his 10 overs.
A huge crowd had turned out to watch the match at the Premadasa Stadium, as fans paid tribute to Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who both played their last ODI match in Sri Lanka. The two legends couldn’t give their supporters the send off they desired, making 28 and 33 respectively, but Dilshan’s century, complimented by Thisara Perera’s brutal 23-ball 50 – the second fastest by a Sri Lankan in ODI cricket – ensured a winning conclusion to their international careers at home.
England will next head to Australia in January for a tri-series that also includes India, for their final set of matches before their World Cup campaign begins against Australia on February 14.