Having sat in the rain in Bristol in a summer dress I took the decision to be all sensible when it came to the 4th ODI between England and Sri Lanka at The Oval. In spite of it being June 29th the weather forecast ‘promised’ rain throughout the day, so Jeans it was, that turned out to be a good decision!
I’m a Surrey member so had been to the ground this summer but I hadn’t seen the effect of the new Peter May Stand. I’d been to a members forum where the intentions for the stand were laid out and I have to say the end result is great! With uncertain weather always likely in England a new, covered area with seating is a wonderful addition, whether that be to get shelter from rain or bright sunshine. I must make a point of sitting in the stand next time I attend as a member.
I was with my good, cricketing friends Tina and Stella, who’d gone for the sunshine look in a dress, schoolgirl error it turned out, we made our way to our seats in the OCS Stand to find we had a good view of the wicket and were well placed as far as those wanting to go and get beer every 5 minutes.
The weather was looking less than perfect with rain falling as the teams emerged, Eoin Morgan had won the toss and put Sri Lanka in to bat, I really hoped we’d see both teams with the bat, unlike Bristol when Sri Lanka who have batted first in all 4 of the games so far, completed their innings while England faced only a handful.
Kusal Perera and Dhanushka Gunathilaka opened the batting to date Perera had been the more successful of the 2 but a crazy chance saw him run out by Jonny Bairstow with only 8 runs on the board. Bairstow is a highly competent fielder, with Buttler taking the keepers gloves when both coincide in the England set up. That was something of shocker for Sri Lanka but they bounced back admirably.
Kusal Mendis joined Gunathilaka at the crease, the diminutive batsman had missed out on runs at both Trent Bridge and Edgbaston but had hit 53 at the abandoned ODI in Bristol. Gunathilaka hadn’t set the world on fire either. However both found their form and pulled their team back from a bad opening position.
Mendis caused problems for England’s bowlers reaching an impressive 75 and Gunithilaka 48 before the rain that had been steadily falling caused a halt in play. I have to say that 2 of us, Stella and myself were highly grateful for the lairy Saracens poncho type get ups I’d squeezed into my bag, it wasn’t only wet, it was actually pretty chilly too! The weather seems to have missed the fact that this is JUNE!
The players left the field at just before 2:20 returning at just after 4:30 a break of over 2 hours, yet we were to lose only 8 overs a side. That seemed a bit crazy at the time but it was to prove to be spot on as far as conditions went.
Mendis didn’t last too long, the English bowlers had been struggling to make a breakthrough before the break for rain, however an Adil Rashid ball was skyed by Mendis, it headed towards Liam Plunkett who was fielding close to where we were sitting, he dived at the ball taking the catch just before it hit the ground. The partnership had taken Sri Lanka to 136 for 2.
Dinesh Chandimal who’s had a very successful ODI series with the bat joined Gunithilaka at the crease. The opener fell to another Rashid ball, this time caught by Moeen Ali, he’d made 62 runs. Sri Lanka were on 158 for 3.
Captain Angelo Mathews came to the crease, he and Chandimal had spent a lot of time together in the middle and this match was no exception. They’re both fine batsmen and clearly have a good understanding. Chandimal had made 63 before David Willey bowled a straight ball which saw bails flying – Sri Lanka had moved on to 245 for 4.
Seekkuge Prasanna was next in, he lasted 8 balls before meeting the same fate as Chandimal, he’d scored only 9 runs. It was a surprise to see Dasun Shanaka coming in next when Upul Tharanga was in the dressing room, But, Shanaka kept Mathews company seeing their team through to the end of the 42nd over. Mathews was 67 not out, Shanaka 19 not out, and Sri Lanka had made an impressive 305 for 5.
With reduced overs Duckworth Lewis had a part to play, I have literally no concept of how this all works, but England needed 308 from the 42 overs available to them. They had one small disadvantage as Alex Hales had disappeared early in the Sri Lankan innings with a back spasm which prevented him batting too.
Jason Roy therefore had a new opening partner in Moeen Ali, it’s not a mystery slot for Ali, but it was;t to be a successful one this time, he was caught by Chandimal from the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep with 2 runs to his name. With a big total to chase England were on 18 for 1.
Joe Root, a man in need of runs, came in at 3 – that saying – ‘Form is Temporary, Class is Permanent’ – was always going to be the case for this young man. The Joe Root England fans know and love reappeared at The Oval. He and Jason Roy a man on a high after his century at Edgbaston and on home territory put on a batting masterclass that was a joy to watch.
I’ve seen Roy in action, hitting runs galore at The Oval when he’s played for his County but this was something else! And it was wonderful to see Joe Root keeping pace, looking like the top class player we know he is.
Occasional bowler Gunithilaka made the breakthrough, Joe Root edged a ball to Pradeep having made 65, he’d looked well on his way to his century and was clearly angry with himself at the manner of his dismissal. England had moved on to 167 for 2, a great recovery after a bad start.
Eoin Morgan who’d only batted once in the series was up next, he along with Ian Bell has been one of England’s most technically gifted batsmen in recent years, but he was another who needed a decent knock.
Jason Roy made his century in 74 balls, it was an impressive 100 and included 11 fours and 2 sixes, he was enjoying batting at home. Morgan seemed to have his eye in too and had made 22 before he fell to a truly amazing catch, certainly the best I’ve seen this summer so far! And it was that man Gunithilaka – he leapt to his right and plucked the ball out of the air – spectacular doesn’t really do it justice! The bowler was Suranga Lakmal and England were on 221 for 3.
Enter Jonny Bairstow, who is in great form all round pretty much, he’s also a demon between the wickets, I’m not sure I’ve seen a batsman as quick off the mark as Bairstow. He and Roy lifted up the pace running 2 where there should have been 1 time and again. He and Roy added 60 runs before the opening bat weary after a massive knock misjudged a ball from Pradeep to see his bails fly. Roy had scored a mighty 162, falling 5 runs short of the record runs made by an England batsman Robin Smith. His innings had been breathtaking and was most certainly the Man of The Match performance.
England needed 26 runs from 24 balls and that task was left with Bairstow and new batsman Jos Buttler. To the delight of the home crowd they made it with 11 balls to spare! Another wonderful ODI, and a series win for England! They move on to Cardiff, my next international fixture sees me at Lords for the first day against Pakistan. I’m very much hoping the weather adjusts to the fact it’s JULY by then!