After a COVID-19 enforced postponement, the T20 World Cup will finally get underway on Sunday.

Initially scheduled to take place in Australia last year, and then India following the postponement, the competition will now take place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

A first round featuring eight teams, including debutants Namibia and Papua New Guinea as well as 2014 champions Sri Lanka (who have reached three T20 World Cup finals, more than any other side), gets the tournament up and running, with four teams progressing into the Super 12 stage.

The West Indies are aiming to defend their title, having edged out England in the 2016 edition. Eoin Morgan's team, who have the world's top T20 batsman in their ranks, are sure to be one of the main challengers for the Windies' crown.

Virat Kohli's India are among the favourites, while Pakistan will be hoping captain Babar Azam delivers. Australia and New Zealand (the most economic side when it came to bowling in 2016) cannot be discounted either, with South Africa also improving in recent years.

It promises to be a thrilling tournament and, with the help of Opta, Stats Perform looks at some of the key data points heading into the tournament.

 

Gayle on the record trail

The Windies have won two of the last three T20 World Cups, triumphing in 2016 and 2012 either side of Sri Lanka's success, and they remain the only team to have won the tournament on multiple occasions. Key to their sustained success has been Chris Gayle, who at 42, is still the face of the sport in the Caribbean.

He is just 80 runs away from becoming the second player to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. In fact, he needs only 97 runs to surpass Mahela Jayawardene's record tally of 1,016. Gayle already holds one competition record, for the number of sixes (60), while he averages 40 across 26 innings at the tournament, with a brilliant strike rate of 146.7.

New Zealand great Brendon McCullum (123) is the only player to have a higher T20 World Cup score than Gayle's 117, and you would not bet against the Windies talisman claiming that record either.

Gayle will have able support from the likes of Kieron Pollard (1,378 T20 runs), Dwayne Bravo (1,229) and Lendl Simmons (1,508), not to mention Nicholas Pooran.

Despite batting in the middle order, Pooran hit the second-highest number of sixes in this year's Caribbean Premier League (25). He also has form in the middle east, having struck 350 runs at a rate of 170 in the most recent edition of the Indian Premier League.

 

Malan and Livingstone to lead England

The Windies' first opponents in the Super 12 phase will be England, who will be out for revenge. They had a batting strike rate of 148 in 2016, the best of any team, but still fell short. Yet while the West Indies are now ninth in the ICC's T20I rankings, Morgan's men sit top of the pile.

Dawid Malan is the star batsman. He is ranked number one in the world in T20Is, with a rating of 841, way clear of second-placed Babar (819). Over 30 innings, he has amassed 1,123 runs at an average of 43.2 and a strike rate of 139.3.

Morgan, not shy of a big innings himself, is also able to call on Liam Livingstone, who has made a fantastic start to his T20I career. 

From seven innings, Livingstone has hit 206 runs with a strike rate of 167.5. His high score of 103 is the joint-highest in England's squad, level with Malan (103 not out).

As was the case at the 2019 World Cup, England's batting depth is exceptional, though they are shorn of Ben Stokes, who always seems to deliver when it matters most.

 

Kohli's last shot

Not too far behind Malan in the ICC's T20I batsman rankings is India star Kohli, who is stepping down as the captain in the shortest format of the game following the World Cup.

Winners of the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, India have only reached one other final, back in 2014. Kohli was named player of the tournament, top-scoring with 319 runs, and as he prepares to bow out as captain, he will be determined to cap off his tenure on a high.

No player has made more half-centuries in the competition than the 32-year-old (level with Gayle on nine), though Kohli is yet to log a century.

Kohli's hopes may well rest on the shoulders of Rohit Sharma. The opener debuted with an unbeaten half-century back in 2007 and has made 111 T20I appearances, behind only Shoaib Malik (116) and Mohammed Hafeez (113).

Only Martin Guptill (147) has struck more sixes than Sharma (133) in the format, while over the last five years, India have won every time the batsman has scored 50+ runs.

 

Captain fantastic

Shahid Afridi has taken the most wickets of any player in T20 World Cup history (39). Indeed, Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan has taken the most wickets at the tournament of any player set to participate in this edition (30), which shows the void Pakistan are having to fill following Afridi's retirement.

They do, however, possess a supreme batsman in the form of captain Babar. 

Since his T20I bow in 2016, Babar has tallied up 2,204 runs. His average of 46.9 puts him third on the all-time T20I list (20+ innings), behind Kohli (52.7) and his fellow opener Mohammad Rizwan (48.4), who provides another string to Pakistan's bow.

Babar, who has only managed one century to date (122 from 59 balls against South Africa earlier this year) was the fastest player to 2,000 T20I runs (52 innings) beating Kohli's previous best of 56, and an enticing encounter between the sub-continental rivals takes place on October 24.

Eoin Morgan hailed the pressure-free environment Kolkata Knight Riders have created after his side sneaked past Delhi Capitals to reach the Indian Premier League final.

The Knight Riders limited Rishabh Pant's side to 135-5 and seemed certain for victory after a 96-opening run stand from Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer.

However, a flurry of late wickets left Kolkata requiring seven to win off Ravichandran Ashwin's final over to secure their final berth and maintain their perfect chasing record since the United Arab Emirates-based resumption.

Rahul Tripathi stood up to the task, blasting Ashwin's fourth ball for six after the off-spinner had removed Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine with consecutive deliveries to leave the score at 130-7.

And Morgan cited Wednesday's qualifier clash as an example of the freedom of expression that the Knight Riders' culture has created.

"It should've been a lot easier after the start we got, Venky [Venkatesh Iyer] and [Shubman] Gill set us the platform," Morgan said at the post-match presentations.

"But we're in the final and we're delighted to get over the line. Six off two [in the final over], the odds were probably in favour of the bowling side, but Rahul Tripathi has done superbly well for us.

"It's a nice insight into our team culture. The young guys coming in are feeling free to express themselves. The backroom staff have created an environment for them to do this."

Iyer was bumped up the order after the coronavirus-enforced delay and the two-time IPL champions have since won seven out of nine matches – winning four games in a row for the first time since the 2018 edition of the tournament.

However, Morgan refused to take credit for the top-order alteration as Iyer continues to thrive, blasting 320 runs in the competition across nine matches at an average of 40.

"The Iyer idea [his elevation] came from the coach, he's a terrific player," England and KKR's captain continued. "He made the chase easy, it looked like he was batting on a different wicket.

"With the squad we have, there's expectation. We would like to keep going and we are playing against Chennai Super Kings – one of the best franchises in IPL history – but anything can happen."

Kolkata Knight Riders secured their place in the Indian Premier League final with a last-gasp three-wicket win over the Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2.

Eoin Morgan's side limited the Capitals to 135-5 from their 20-over allocation as Varun Chakravarthy (2-26) was ably supported by Lockie Ferguson (1-26) and Shivam Mavi (1-27).

Shikhar Dhawan (36) and Shreyas Iyer (30 not out) were the pick of the batsmen but the Capitals were left facing an uphill battle, knowing Kolkata had won on all five occasions they have chased following the United Arab Emirates-based resumption.

Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer then got the Knight Riders off to a flyer, forming a 96-run opening partnership as the former raced to a 38-ball half-century before falling to Kagiso Rabada (2-23).

The Capitals, who are the only side to qualify for the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, managed to remove Nitish Rana (13) and Gill through Anrich Nortje (2-31) and Avesh Khan (1-22) respectively to leave the score at 125 after 16.4 overs.

Rabada knocked over experienced campaigner Dinesh Karthik (0) to further hamper the chase and when Morgan (0) followed in the same manner to Nortje, seven runs were required off Ravichandran Ashwin's final over.

Ashwin (2-27) conceded just one off his first two balls, removing Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine with his following two, before Rahul Tripathi (12 not out) smashed a maximum to collect the Knight Riders' seventh win in their last nine matches with just one ball to spare.

The win means Morgan's team will meet MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings in Friday's final as the Capitals fell before the showpiece once more.

Classy Chakravarthy

Chakravarthy may have overstepped and offered Shimron Heytmer a lifeline on just two, however, the Kolkata bowler escaped without too much punishment as the West Indian mustered just 15 more runs.

The 30-year-old was the only Knight Riders bowler to not concede a single maximum, delivering seven dot balls in an economical spell through the middle overs.

Nervy Narine

Narine was the man of the hour against the Royal Challengers Bangalore as he took 4-21 and blasted a 15-ball 26, but he failed to back up that heroic performance.

The KKR off-spinner went wicketless in his four-over allocation, conceding 27 runs before falling for a first-ball duck as he looked to launch his side to victory.

All-rounder Sam Curran will miss England's Twenty20 World Cup campaign with a back injury.

Curran's older brother Tom has been called up to replace the 23-year-old, who suffered the setback while playing in the Indian Premier League for Chennai Super Kings at the weekend.

Scans revealed a lower-back issue, meaning disappointment for one sibling but an opportunity for another.

Surrey's Reece Topley will also join up with the squad after being added as a travelling reserve for the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

England's opening match is against West Indies, who beat them in the 2016 final, on October 23.

Ravindra Jadeja was the hero as Chennai Super Kings pinched a dramatic two-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.

Kolkata mustered 171-6 from their 20-over allocation and looked heavy favourites, with MS Dhoni's Super Kings needing 24 off the final 10 balls.

However, Jadeja (22) smashed 20 off Prasidh Krishna's final four balls in the penultimate over, with number 10 Deepak Chahar (one not out) then holding his nerve to hit the winning run off the final ball of the match.

Shardul Thakur and Josh Hazlewood took two wickets apiece, and Jadeja picked up 1-21, but Eoin Morgan's Knight Riders still posted a handy total, with Rahul Tripathi (45) and Nitish Rana (37) providing much of the impetus.

Dinesh Karthik played an important hand with a late 26 from just 11 deliveries, but that did not seem to matter as Chennai made a dashing start to their reply, openers Faf du Plessis and Ruturaj Gaikwad making 43 and 40 respectively.

Once they both fell, Sunil Narine and the Knight Riders attack began to make an impact with the ball as the Super Kings collapsed from 102-1 to 142-6, despite Moeen Ali making 32.

Yet Jadeja then came up with the late intervention that earned him man-of-the-match honours, launching two sixes before immediately adding a pair of fours in the 19th-over burst.

Jadeja fell to the penultimate ball of the contest in Abu Dhabi, pinned lbw by Narine, but Chahar came up with the single required to give Chennai the win.

Nervy Narine

Narine's first two overs were blasted for 25, but the off-spinner led the Knight Riders' recovery as he removed Ambati Rayudu, Sam Curran and Jadeja.

He kept his team in the match all the way to the final ball, after Super Kings' top three earlier piled on the runs, but Jadeja's big-hitting had made it too much of a tall order.

More needed from Morgan?

Morgan struggled for fluidity with the bat, and he may feel his slow scoring ultimately cost his side as they were pipped on the final ball.

The England captain failed to capitalise on Tripathi's top-order impetus as he limped to just eight off 14 balls before being removed by Hazlewood in the ninth over with the score at 70-3.

England have recalled Tymal Mills after a four-year absence from international cricket for their T20 World Cup squad, while Ben Stokes remains on an indefinite break from cricket.

Stokes had announced his break before the Test series against India to prioritise his mental wellbeing and did not make himself available for selection for England's preliminary 15-man T20 squad.

In the absence of the injured Jofra Archer, Mills features for the first time since February 2017 after impressing in white-ball cricket this term, winning the inaugural Hundred competition with Trent Rockets and guiding Sussex to the T20 Blast Finals Day.

On announcing England's squad, head coach Chris Silverwood said: "We are excited about the prospect of challenging to win the ICC T20 World Cup. 

"I believe we have selected a squad that covers all bases and has the depth to be successful in what is expected to be a very competitive tournament featuring the best players in the world.

"Tymal Mills deserves his inclusion and has demonstrated over the past couple of years, but particularly this summer that he has all skills to succeed at this level. 

"His exceptional pace is a standout, and the way he has spearheaded Sussex and Southern Brave's respective attacks in the short-form game has shown that he relishes the pressures of the big stage.

"He will add variety to our bowling unit, and we can't wait to see him play in a major international tournament."

David Willey also makes the list after the disappointment of missing out on the triumphant 50-over World Cup squad in 2019, with Tom Curran demoted to the reserves.

There is no room for leg-spinner Matt Parkinson but Lancashire team-mate Liam Livingstone is included and could have a big role to play as a third spinner alongside Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Eoin Morgan's men, who fell short in the final against West Indies at the 2016 T20 World Cup, have until October 10 to finalise their squad.

England finish off their preparations with a two-match T20I series against Pakistan, on 14 and 15 October, before their first group-stage fixture against West Indies on October 23.

 

England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Reserves: Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, James Vince.

England's second string have "done themselves a world of good" with their performances in the ODI series against Pakistan, says captain Eoin Morgan.

Ben Stokes returned early from an injury lay-off to captain a hastily assembled side in the three-match series after England's first-choice squad were forced to isolate due to a coronavirus outbreak.

However, with Morgan and Co watching on from the sidelines, England's back-up brigade impressed in a 3-0 series triumph – James Vince scoring his maiden ODI century as he led a record run chase at Edgbaston to secure the third victory.

England's star names have returned for the T20I series, which starts on Friday, though Saqib Mahmood, who was named player of the series, and Lewis Gregory have been rewarded for their performances.

"They've done themselves the world of good, to be honest," Morgan said when asked of the players who stepped up to fulfil the ODI series.

"The one thing you look at when guys come in and out is a marked improvement from the time they [first] get the opportunity to the time the next opportunity arrives. The two guys mentioned [Mahmood and Gregory] and Vince were outstanding.

"I think everybody within the group was extremely proud to watch them play like they did, simply because it's the biggest compliment you can pay to anybody who played in the World Cup group, and the way we've played in the last five years has had such an impact on the game.

"Guys recognise that opportunities are few and far between but, when they do come, the method that the team plays is starting to resonate with people around the country, which is great.

"Over the last six years, with the amount of cricket we play, you don't get to enjoy the cricket as much as you'd like. But sitting back and watching the guys [and] the way the guys played was hugely satisfying. They played an exciting brand of cricket, they really enjoyed themselves, and the result came with that. It was hugely beneficial."

 

England have triumphed in five of their past six T20I home outings, and finished 2020 with three successive wins, meaning a victory at Trent Bridge will match their longest winning run on home soil in the format.

However, Pakistan won the most recent meeting between the teams last September, a five-run victory in Manchester in a series which finished 1-1.

One player Morgan will be unable to call on is Stokes, who has been rested as he recovers from the finger injury which had been set to keep him out of white-ball action this month.

"He dug us out of a huge hole coming back early from his injury and I think leading the way he did is a huge compliment to the leader he is within our side, how mature he has been as a leader and now a captain," Morgan said of Stokes.

"We gave him every chance to be fit. He hasn't played a lot of cricket and he's had some 'R and R' at home and feels quite fresh.

"The finger hasn't come along as he and the medical team would have liked, so it's important it's as good as it can be for the Test matches against India."

England will be aiming to continue their fine T20I form on home soil when they take on Pakistan in a three-match series, starting on Friday in Nottingham.

Fresh off a 3-0 sweep in the ODI games against the same opponents, England switch to a format in which they have triumphed in five of their past six outings in their own back yard.

Indeed, they finished a 2020 season hampered by the coronavirus pandemic with three victories on the spin – another at Trent Bridge in the opener against Pakistan will match their longest winning run at home in 20-over action, having previously enjoyed a four-match streak from September 2014 to July 2016.

However, Pakistan won the most recent meeting between the teams in September of last year, a five-run victory in Manchester making sure that series finished level at 1-1.

The tourists will hope a change to T20 action can help them turn around their fortunes on this trip, considering they were outplayed by a makeshift England 50-over team that had been hastily put together due to COVID-19 protocols.

Eoin Morgan was among the regulars forced to isolate following positive coronavirus cases within the group that had been on duty for the ODI games against Sri Lanka, but the captain is back to lead a more familiar squad this time around.

Saqib Mahmood is included again after impressing in the one-day arena, while Lewis Gregory is also selected and there is a return from injury for Jos Buttler, too. Ben Stokes – captain of the 50-over side in Morgan's absence – is left out, however, having only just made his comeback following surgery on a broken finger.

Chris Silverwood will also be missing for the home team, with England's head coach taking a break from his duties. Paul Collingwood has been placed in temporary charge.

As for Pakistan, Imad Wasim has been recalled to a squad that also includes batsman Azam Khan, son of former national team captain and coach Moin Khan.

England are at home, but Trent Bridge has not been regularly used for T20 international fixtures in the past. The home side won by seven wickets against West Indies at the venue back in June 2012, having lost by the same margin when taking on South Africa there three years earlier.

 


In the (Mah)mood for more wickets

With England opting to leave out Sam Curran, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood – three likely selections for the upcoming Test series against India – Mahmood has an opportunity to stake his claim ahead of this year's Twenty20 World Cup.

The Lancashire pace bowler finished with nine wickets at an average of 13.66 in his three ODI outings against Pakistan, all while going at just 4.39 runs per over.

Brilliant Babar to lead the way?

Pakistan captain Babar Azam made up for two low scores with a sensational 158 in the third one-dayer, albeit his efforts came in a losing cause. His innings did at least strengthen his grip on top spot in the official ODI batting rankings.

He is just as prolific in T20I cricket, too. Since the beginning of 2019, the right-hander is the only player to reach 1,000 runs in the format (1,004), while no other has managed more scores of 50 or more across that period (11).

Key series facts

- Pakistan will be aiming for back-to-back wins in men’s T20Is against England for the first time, following a five-run victory in their most recent meeting (September 1, 2020).

- England are undefeated against Pakistan from their five multigame bilateral T20I series (W3, D2); their most recent such series in 2020 ended in a draw.

- Three of the four players with the best batting averages in T20I cricket (25+ innings) could appear in this series: Dawid Malan (47.4), Babar Azam (47.3) and Mohammad Rizwan (44.4). Only Virat Kohli (52.7) has a better average in the format than the trio.

- England have the second-best batting strike rate (148.9 runs per 100 deliveries) of any Test-playing country in T20I action since the beginning of 2019 (New Zealand – 151.5).

- Fakhar Zaman (948) is 52 away from scoring 1,000 T20 runs at international level; he would be the seventh man to achieve the feat for Pakistan, and the fourth fastest to do so (45th innings) if he achieves the milestone in the first match (Babar Azam – 26 innings, Mohammad Hafeez – 41 and Ahmed Shehzad – 42).

- Pakistan pace bowler Haris Rauf has taken 25 wickets in T20I action since the beginning of 2020; only two players have taken more in that time (Tabraiz Shamsi – 26 for South Africa and Ish Sodhi – 26 for New Zealand).

England captain Eoin Morgan is one of the players back in the fold for the T20I series against Pakistan.

Morgan and vice-captain Jos Buttler are among nine men to return after being forced to self-isolate due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the England squad during their series against Sri Lanka earlier this month.

That meant a completely fresh squad with a raft of debutants was called up for the ODI series versus Pakistan, with Ben Stokes captaining them to a superb 3-0 series win.

Stokes will now rest up, but Lancashire fast bowler Saqib Mahmood has been rewarded with a T20 call-up after taking nine wickets at 13.66 in the ODIs to collect the player-of-the-series award.

Similarly, Somerset all-rounder Lewis Gregory remains with the senior set-up after his superb 77 from 69 deliveries proved crucial alongside James Vince's century in England's thrilling chase of 332 at Edgbaston on Monday.

 

England T20I squad

Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Tom Banton, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey

Ben Stokes hailed England's hastily assembled squad after James Vince's maiden ODI century inspired a clean-sweep sealing victory over Pakistan.

England's preparation for the three-match home series was thrown into chaos last week when Eoin Morgan's first-choice squad were forced into isolation due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Stokes had missed England's series with Sri Lanka due to a finger injury, but he returned to captain a new-look group.

It could hardly have gone better for England who, on the eve of the second anniversary of their World Cup triumph, mounted a record run chase in an ODI at Edgbaston to seal a 3-0 series victory on Tuesday.

Vince hit his first century in the format, a sparkling 102, while Lewis Gregory's 77 also helped England get over the line. Brydon Carse, who took a five-wicket haul, rounded off the win with a boundary down the ground.

While lauding the work of Morgan behind the scenes, Stokes praised the performances of England's second string, which proves the strength in depth at the world champions' disposal.

"Not just today, throughout the series, all the efforts of the guys have been fantastic," Stokes said in the post-match presentation.

"I keep reverting back to where we were last week, just got to give a massive thanks to all the players, all the coaches, support staff for still making this happen. It's been a tough week for everyone involved but we've managed to pull through – to put in performances like that is fantastic.

"A huge amount of credit has got to go to Eoin and Chris Silverwood for allowing the new guys to come in and go out and play in that manner, go out and impress which is what they asked them to do at the start of the series.

"Nobody has taken a backwards step, so so much credit has got to go to Eoin and the way he's built the team.

"This is the culture that Eoin and me try to create, allowing guys to go out there and play fearless cricket, even at the top of the order, Phil Salt has come in and given us that dynamic, so the most pleasing thing to me is nobody has been affected by the situation or the occasion, they've just gone out there, enjoyed themselves and had a great experience.

"It's the best place to be in. To have so many good players coming through, everybody has seriously put their hands up and got a few guys looking over their shoulders. Just seriously impressed with everyone throughout the series."

 

While Vince took his chance with the bat, Saqib Mahmood returned to England's set-up to star with the ball, with his nine wickets across the three ODIs seeing him named as player of the series.

"A pretty special week, to be able to repay that faith and perform the way I have, I'm really happy," Saqib said.

"I'll just take it as it comes, this time last week I was waiting to play for Lancashire, before you know it you're in an England shirt again, so I'll just take it as it comes."

England will name their squad for the upcoming Twenty20 series against Pakistan on Wednesday.

England have been forced to name a new squad to face Pakistan after seven members of the ODI party tested positive for coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revealed three players and four members of the management team returned positive tests in Bristol on Monday and will observe a period of self-isolation.

Due to being deemed as close contacts, the remaining members of the ODI party must also isolate.

The ECB confirmed both the T20 and ODIs against Pakistan will go ahead, with the fit-again Ben Stokes returning to captain the side and a squad will be announced later on Tuesday.

Incoming squad and support team members will follow PCR tests and bridging protocols to ensure safe entry to camp.

pic.twitter.com/p3SKcSJNN1

— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 6, 2021

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "We have been mindful that the emergence of the Delta variant, along with our move away from the stringent enforcement of bio secure environments, could increase the chances of an outbreak.

"We made a strategic choice to try to adapt protocols, in order to support the overall wellbeing of our players and management staff who have spent much of the last 14 months living in very restricted conditions.

"Overnight we have worked swiftly to identify a new squad, and we are grateful to Ben Stokes who will return to England duties to captain.

"We also recognise the impact this news will have on our First Class Counties and their men's playing squads and thank them."

England secured a 2-0 ODI series win over Sri Lanka, with no result possible in the final match in Bristol on Sunday due to rain.

 

Eoin Morgan will use Sunday's final ODI against Sri Lanka to rotate England's squad after a series victory was secured on Thursday.

England captain Morgan hit an unbeaten 75 to return to form at The Oval in the second ODI of the three-match series, leading England to an eight-wicket triumph.

The hard work had been done by Sam Curran, whose maiden ODI five-for dismantled Sri Lanka's top order, with David Willey (4-64) more than chipping in to limit the tourists to 241.

Jason Roy's superb 60 got England going before Morgan and his Test counterpart Joe Root (68) guided the hosts over the line with 42 deliveries to spare.

It marked Morgan's first big score since he hit 106 against Ireland in August 2020, with the one-day skipper having scored 23, 42, 23, 22 and six in his five innings between then and Thursday.

"Nice to score some runs and make a contribution to a series win," Morgan said at the post-match presentation.

 "It's worked in my favour, distractions as a captain, to not think about your batting for some time.

"The game was set up by the bowling unit, two left-armers swinging it early, and then the wicket became a bit flatter and slower and we had to sit in and build pressure to create chances."

 

"I think we'll see more changes, it's only three days away but we also have an eye on the Pakistan series, 50-over cricket is a chance to bring guys in," Morgan added when asked if he would look to introduce fresh players into the XI for the final match in Bristol.

"We're always looking to grow and get better.

"I still don't think I'm striking it that well but [it was] nice to get some time in the middle."

Curran was awarded the Player of the Match prize for his efforts of 5-48 on his home ground.

"Really special, to be playing in front of the fans, you can hear them now – an awesome atmosphere, to do it on my home ground us really special," said the Surrey bowler.

"I feel I've played a lot of cricket, feel like I'm learning, picking the brains of other guys. The more I play and fail I learn from those experiences."

Eoin Morgan and Joe Root guided England to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory to seal an ODI series success over Sri Lanka.

Sam Curran's first international five-for set England on the way to a convincing win at The Oval on Thursday as, despite Dhananjaya de Silva's efforts, Sri Lanka were limited to 241-9.

Dhananjaya's 91 from as many balls, an innings that included 13 boundaries, propelled Sri Lanka to a respectable score after Curran (5-48) had ripped through the tourists' top order.

It was not enough to hold England off, though, with captain Morgan (75 not out) and his Test counterpart Root (68 not out) rounded things off to seal the series win before the final match in Bristol on Sunday.

Dhananjaya was out in the middle by the 11th delivery of the day, Curran having dismissed both Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando.

Curran and partner in crime David Willey (4-64) had the tourists at 21-4 by the seventh over, though successive boundaries got Dhananjaya into his stride.

Dhananjaya's impressive stand finally ended just nine runs shy of a maiden ODI century, Willey doing the honours, with Curran getting his five-for by sending Chamika Karunaratne packing.

Jason Roy had thumped his way to 40 by the end of the eighth over of the chase, with Jonny Bairstow crunching 14 in the next over to join the party.

Bairstow dragged on from Wanindu Hasaranga and Roy got himself to 60 before being caught by Dhananjaya, yet Sri Lanka would have no more joy in the field.

A six and a fortunate inside edge took Morgan to a confidence-boosting half-century, with Root reaching a second straight 50 in the next over, and victory was capped when England's captain hooked a short ball out to the leg-side boundary.

 

CURRAN SETS THE TONE AND MORGAN REGAINS FORM

Surrey bowler Curran was due a star turn, and he delivered in some style on his home ground.

Morgan, meanwhile, was in need of a morale-boosting innings after some tricky form. He had not scored 50 or over since hitting 106 against Ireland in August 2020, having scored 23, 42, 23, 22 and six in his five innings since then, before Thursday's encounter.

SRI LANKA LEFT REELING

That is five defeats on the bounce to start this tour for Sri Lanka, who now have to hope to avoid a T20 and ODI two-series whitewash.

Thursday's game came 15 years to the day since Sri Lanka chased down 322 at Trent Bridge with eight wickets in hand and 75 balls to spare, but this was a poor imitation of that team. This was Sri Lanka's 428th ODI defeat in men's cricket, seeing them overtake India as the side to lose the most matches in the format, while the Lions have also lost seven games this year, more than any other team.

Ahead of Sri Lanka's three-match series against England, which begins in Durham on Tuesday, visiting captain Kusal Perera might have ruefully acknowledged that if you want a job doing then you might as well do it yourself.

A 3-0 thumping in the T20I leg of the tour meant Sri Lanka's preparations were already far from ideal before Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka breached the squad's bio-secure bubble on Sunday and were send home immediately.

It means Perera is now likely to open the batting in Gunathilaka's absence and take the wicketkeeping gloves with Dickwella unavailable.

Avishka Fernando is out with a quadriceps injury and there could be a debut in the middle order for Charith Asalanka.

The hosts will begin as strong favourites and might even have their eye on a quick victory before the prospect of crowds drifting away to watch the England v Germany last-16 encounter at Euro 2020, which kicks off at 17:00 local time.

England's previous 50-over match against Sri Lanka on home soil ended in a surprise defeat at Headingley during the group stage of their ultimately triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

That meant what was in effect a quarter-final at Chester-Le-Street, where a home side flushed with local talent were roared to victory over New Zealand.

Ben Stokes is still working his way back to full fitness following a broken finger and Liam Plunkett has been cast aside at international level, but Durham's own Mark Wood remains a figurehead of England's white-ball attack and in fine form.

The quality of an England seam department boasting Wood's fellow World Cup hero Chris Woakes looks likely to be far too much for Sri Lanka, although Jason Roy (hamstring) being a doubt for an England batting order lacking Jos Buttler (calf) may give them the tiniest morsels of encouragement ahead of what might become an ordeal.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

England – Dawid Malan

Malan finished the T20I series as an opener after Buttler was laid low and the world's number one batsman in the shortest international format is likely to get his chance to impress alongside Jonny Bairstow as Roy recuperates. In three previous ODI innings, he has 90 runs and a top score of 50. If Malan impresses over longer periods in the middle a clamour for him to be restored to England's faltering Test line-up might in turn increase.

Sri Lanka – Dushmantha Chameera

Malan and Bairstow could face a stern examination from pace bowler Chameera, whose 4-17 in the final T20I at the Ageas Bowl followed an ODI career-best of 5-16 against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month. In 28 50-over internationals, the 29-year-old has 30 wickets at 33.36 and his slingy, slippery action could be particularly problematic during this gloomy period of the English summer.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- England have lost five of their past seven ODIs (W2), including a three-wicket defeat in their most recent match at home against Australia last September.
- Sri Lanka have just one win from their previous six ODI matches (L5), however, that win was their most recent game against Bangladesh.
- Joe Root needs 38 runs to reach 6,000 in ODI cricket. He is the second highest run scorer for England in the format after captain Eoin Morgan (6,876).
- Woakes needs one wicket to reach 150 in ODIs. He would be the sixth man to achieve the feat for England and the fourth fastest (105 matches) to do so if he manages it at Chester-Le-Street after Stuart Broad (95), Darren Gough (97) and Adil Rashid (102).
- Perera needs 11 runs to reach 3,000 in ODIs. He would be the joint-third fastest to the milestone out of 17 overall if he does so in his 100th innings after Upul Tharanga (93), Marvan Atapattu (94) and alongside Lahiru Thirimanne (100).

England will be looking to extend their winning streak against struggling Sri Lanka when the Twenty20 series begins on Wednesday in Cardiff.

The three matches between the nations provide an opportunity to continue building towards this year's T20 World Cup, though the hosts are without two key players due to injuries.

Fast bowler Jofra Archer is sidelined after surgery on his right elbow, while Ben Stokes is not yet ready to return to England duty following a broken finger. However, the all-rounder is playing again for Durham, suggesting an international comeback is not too far away.

Reece Topley is another to be ruled out of action, with England opting for David Willey as an alternative left-arm bowling option. Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan have been injury doubts ahead of the opening fixture, though captain Eoin Morgan said on Tuesday he expects both to be available.

England's limited-overs skipper was also asked again about the possibility of a return for Alex Hales, with the batsman having not played for England since being withdrawn from the 50-over squad just prior to the 2019 World Cup.

"There are conversations to be had between Alex, myself and the coach and potentially a few of the players," Morgan told the media. "Trying to get those happening in Covid times has been an issue. They will happen at some stage."

England have won three on the spin against Sri Lanka, who have been beaten in nine of their last 10 completed outings in T20 cricket. Their solitary win during the miserable run came against West Indies in March.

In that same month, England lost a hard-fought series in India, going down 3-2 to Virat Kohli's side. Bairstow is one of a number of players back in the fold after heading home from the Indian Premier League earlier than originally scheduled once the tournament was halted due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hosts have an unblemished record at Sophia Gardens in T20 action too, winning all six games played there. This will be the first time they have hosted Sri Lanka at the venue.


Jonny be good! 

After isolating upon his return from India, Bairstow has been in outstanding form in the domestic T20 competition, the Vitality Blast.

The right-handed batsman has made 295 runs in four outings for Yorkshire, including hitting 112 against Worcestershire when needing a runner for half of his innings due to an injured ankle. Still, there is little need to move when you can hit boundaries – he has managed 26 fours and 18 sixes while scoring at a strike-rate of 175.59 runs per 100 deliveries while in action for his county in that competition.

Opportunity knocks

Chris Woakes is back for England, having not featured in a T20 at international level since November 2015. Like Willey, he will hope to make the most of any opportunity that comes his way in the series, which sees two games staged in the Welsh capital before concluding at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Sri Lanka, too, have some fresh faces: Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya Lakshan and Ishan Jayaratne have been included in a 24-man squad for both this series and the three one-dayers that follow. The tourists are without former captain Angelo Mathews, however.

Key series facts

- England lost their most recent men's T20I on home soil, against Australia in September 2020; however, the last time they lost two consecutive such matches at home was in August 2013.

- Since the beginning of 2020, Sri Lanka have the second lowest bowling dot-ball percentage (38.3 per cent) of any Test-playing country in the powerplay overs in men’s T20Is (Afghanistan 37.7 per cent).

- Sri Lanka have scored just 53.6 per cent of their runs from boundaries in powerplay overs in T20 games since the beginning of 2020, the lowest rate of any Test-playing country in that time.

- Morgan (201) needs just 13 runs to become the highest run-scorer in men's T20 clashes between England and Sri Lanka (Mahela Jayawardene – 213).

- Chris Jordan (12) needs just two wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in men's T20 games involving England and Sri Lanka (Lasith Malinga – 13).

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