England vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I Preview: SL batsmen need to stand up to stave off whitewash
Sri Lanka were considerably better in the 2nd T20 as compared to the first one but still not good enough to cause England any jitters.
LIVE SCORES - England vs Sri Lanka 3rd T20I
The Sri Lankan bowling has shown glimpses of having the capability to trouble England, but it is their batsmen who need to step up.
Couple of changes for both teams
Both teams made a couple of changes in the last match. Jos Buttler, the Player of the Match in the series opener, missed out due to a calf strain, with Jonny Bairstow keeping the wickets. Chris Woakes was also benched as Sam Billings and David Willey came in.
Sri Lanka decided to bat first for the second time as well, bringing in Niroshan Dickwella and Binura Fernando in place of Dhananjaya de Silva and Nuwan Pradeep respectively.
Slow going for SL
Like in the 1st T20I, the approach of the Sri Lankan batsmen was not admirable. They can certainly afford to go a bit harder, particularly in the powerplay. It was shocking that Sri Lanka were not able to hit a single boundary in the powerplay in the second T20 and their first boundary of the match came in the 8th over. In fact, only two of their batsmen cleared the ropes, which is unheard of in this format of the game.
The tone was set when Danushka Gunathilaka was run out off a brilliant push pass from Sam Curran which hit middle stump and found Gunathilaka way short of his crease. Avishka Fernando followed him to the dressing room with an attempted hook as he was holed out at square leg.
Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis did try to force the initiative but had absolutely no timing to do so.
Wood, Rashid shine again
Mark Wood further jolted Sri Lanka's hopes of speeding up, getting both Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella in the 14th over to break the back of the Sri Lankan batting order.
Isuru Udana hit a couple of boundaries in the last over to take Sri Lanka to 111 but that wasn't ever going to be enough.
David Willey conceded just 17 runs from his 4 overs, but his trademark swing was missing. Sam Curran bowled just two overs and picked up one wicket, with Liam Livingstone chipping in with the other two. Clearly, England are giving Livingstone the ball in order to prepare him for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Mark Wood and Adil Rashid were sensational as always. Wood, in particular, bowled at an economy rate of 4.50. Rashid also picked up the two crucial wickets of Kusal Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga while bowling at an economy rate of 6.00.
England stutter, but nothing to worry
Sri Lanka got off to a brilliant start with the ball. Binura Fernando, coming into the side in place of Nuwan Pradeep, was the first one to strike as he bowled a brilliant in-swinger to send Jonny Bairstow packing. Dawid Malan was caught plumb in front of the wickets by a pearler from Dushmantha Chameera.
Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan hit a couple of boundaries but both were dismissed in quick succession as England were left reeling at 36/4 from 6.3 overs. However, despite the rain breaks and early dismissals, England never really were under threat of losing the match.
One, the run rate was never too demanding. Two, England bat so deep that even if they had lost a couple more wickets, they had every chance to win the game.
Hasaranga needs runs to work with
Sam Billings, coming into the side in place of Jos Buttler, played the finisher's role well but ultimately Wanindu Hasaranga proved too good for him. Hasaranga had earlier dismissed Jason Roy as well and seems to be the best Sri Lankan bowler on display by some margin.
If the Lankan batsmen can even score somewhere around 150, his variations and guile can prove to be tough to handle for England.
Tom Curran for Wood, Sandakan for Dananjaya?
With the series already won, England are expected to make a couple of changes to their playing XI. Buttler is not likely to risk himself with a calf strain. Mark Wood, after having bowled with some serious pace on back to back days, is likely to be rested with Tom Curran taking his place.
England are also likely to give an opportunity to either Moeen Ali or Liam Dawson in place of Adil Rashid who has been superb.
It looked like Sri Lanka had their best XI on the park in the 2nd T20I. The only possible change for them is to bring in Lakshan Sandakan in place of Akila Dananjaya.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
England - Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran
Sri Lanka - Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera (c), Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando
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