England beat Sri Lankans again
Jason Roy cracked the second-highest score by an Englishman in ODIs as Eoin Morgan’s men beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in a rain-affected fourth ODI at The Oval to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Roy smashed 162 from 118 balls, falling five runs shy of the unbeaten 167 Robin Smith hit against Australia at Edgbaston in 1993, to help the hosts reach their revised target of 308 with 11 balls to spare in a reduced 42 overs a side encounter.
Kusal Mendis (77 off 64) top scored for Sri Lanka as they posted 305-5, having seen their innings interrupted by a rain delay in excess of two hours after they had carded 127-1 in 18.1 overs after being put into bat.
Angelo Mathews (67no), Dinesh Chandimal (63) and Dunashka Gunathilaka (62) ensured England were set a tricky-looking run chase, but Roy, who blasted 112 not out in Birmingham on Friday, hammered Sri Lanka’s attack to all parts on his home track, nailing 13 fours and three sixes.
Joe Root (65) chipped in with the bat, too, as Eoin Morgan’s men completed their second best ODI run chase and left Sri Lanka without a win over England this summer heading into Saturday’s fifth and final ODI in Cardiff.
Mendis has been a bright spot for the tourists, though, the 21-year-old hitting a maiden Test fifty and now successive ODI half-centuries after backing up his 53 in Bristol on Sunday with a boundary-laden knock in south London.
The right-hander – in after just nine balls following Jonny Bairstow’s run out of Kusal Perera (one) with a direct hit from cover – spanked 13 fours in his 59 deliveries before the rain break, a front-foot drive through extra-cover off Liam Plunkett perhaps the pick of his strokes.
Gunathilaka, whose previous top score in the series was 22, also scored briskly as England pacers Plunkett, David Willey and Chris Woakes found little seam or swing and spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali – recalled in place of Chris Jordan – were forced to bowl with a damp ball.
However, Rashid (2-57) caught the batsmen cold upon the restart – Mendis skewing to mid-off in the 20th over and Gunathilaka picking out cover in the 24th, Moeen pouching the latter to atone for dropping him off his own bowling a few overs earlier.
Chandimal biffed three sixes – one, an uppercut over third man, taking him to a third straight ODI fifty – before he was bowled around his legs by Willey (2-58), who would then go on to shatter the stumps of Seekugge Prasanna (nine) with a well-directed yorker.
Mathews gave Plunkett some tap late on, nailing the Yorkshire quick for three straight fours, but it was soon Roy peppering the boundary, the opener reaching his third ODI century from 74 balls and his maiden 150 from 109.
Roy, who survived an lbw review on 16 before being dropped by Suranga Lakmal on 133 having clubbed back in the bowler’s direction, was eventually cleaned up by a Nuwan Pradeep slower ball with 27 runs required.
The Surrey man’s makeshift opening partner, Moeen did not last long, the left-hander nicking off for two having replaced Alex Hales at the top of the order after the latter picked up a back spasm while fielding.
But Roy found a tremendous ally in Root, the pair putting on 149 for the second wicket in 106 balls before the Yorkshireman, who notched nine fours in his 13th ODI fifty, top-edged Gunathilaka to Pradeep at short-fine leg.
Gunathilaka then took a stunning, diving one-handed catch at backward point to dismiss Morgan (22) and with Roy banished in the 38th over, Bairstow (29no) and Jos Buttler (17no) ensured England gained revenge for their 3-2 ODI series defeat at home to Sri Lanka in 2014 – Buttler smoking the winning boundary.