At exact 11.33 pm (local time) Ben Stokes banged down Amila Aponso’s left-arm spin with his almighty six. The shot beautifully sealed a seven-wicket conquest for England against Sri-Lanka.
Even a six-hour rain delay could not reduce the gap created by Eoin Morgan who triumphantly chased down the target of 151 with 15 spare balls.
Stokes clearing the rope twice boosted the end card with an unbeaten 35 and Morgan, on the other hand, demonstrated a classic levelheaded game in the run chase by scoring unbeaten 58 from 49 balls.
Sri Lanka’s efforts with the bat were wrecked by Adil Rashid’s 4 for 36 from 5 overs leading him to rightly acquire the title of man of the match. Making his first appearance for the team since March, Tom Curran’s performance proved to be the biggest boon for Morgan who aims to win the World Cup next summer.
Owing to Liam Dawson’s injury, Surrey earned a golden chance to deploy his collection of cutters and slow balls retrieving 3 for 7 from 4 overs thus underlining England’s increasing competition to secure places in the seam area.
Once the rains had conceded, things started optimistically for Sri Lanka. But Niroshan Dickwella’s flurry of scoops punched drives, and uppercuts got the locals pumped up as the cricketer in partnership with Sadeera Samarawickrama blazed 8 fours and put 55 runs on the board in the first five overs.
Sri Lanka stumbled after the dismissal of the pair by distracted 36 from 20 balls. However, the opening bombardment imposed as a revenge on Olly Stone and Chris Woakes—the join up whose striking new-ball spurt ended up in putting England 1-0 up in Dambulla.
As Niroshan thrashed a length ball square to serve a catch to mid-off, Curran applied handbrakes in the 6th over. Later Rashid doubled off the aching five balls. A googly bowled Kusal Mendis through the gate for a golden duck, leaving the hosts with 59 for 2.
Sri Lanka attempted to restore but Samarawickrama’s stodgy 35 didn’t make the matter worse. Rashid struck twice in the 13th over to tear the guts out of the innings with the help of Samawickrama’s full toss squirted to square leg before a long-on was picked out by Thisara Perera in the next delivery.
Subsequently, Curran’s balls came slower to the façade, accounting for Dinesh Chandimal for a slothful 34 and Dhananjaya de Silva on three. After Dasun Shanaka made a counterattacking 21 by misreading a googly and letting it crash into his stumps, Rashid scored his fourth.
Sri Lanka’s allover result appeared lean with Curran’s direct hit off the final ball of the innings and two run outs in the way. Although Aponso removed Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow early in the game—the latter one bowled by a slider and the former compliantly picking out mid-off—England’s vigor always offers assurance against such early shakes.
However, this profusion of batsmen wasn’t necessary. Before Morgan’s 4th half-century on five innings amongst an unbroken counter of 73 with the restraining Stokes brushed up their job, Jason Roy’s outstanding 41 from 26 broke the back of the target, though he was trapped lbw sweeping.