South Africa will look to put more off-field disruption behind them when they start a three-match ODI series against Sri Lanka on Thursday.

The Proteas were rocked by the resignation of assistant coach Enoch Nkwe last week as they prepared to travel to Sri Lanka.

Nkwe's decision to quit was put down to personal ambitions and his concerns about the functioning and culture of the team environment.

Proteas white-ball captain Temba Bavuma is eager to meet Nkwe on his return from Sri Lanka to discuss his reasons for stepping down.

"I haven't had an opportunity to have a formal discussion with Enoch but probably when I get back to South Africa, I'd like to sit down with him and maybe unpack it a bit," Bavuma said.

"I'd like to hear it from him. He is the subject here, at the end of the day. If there is merit [to Nkwe's concerns], as a member of the team, it's something I will take on board and have a discussion amongst the team."

Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock has been rested for the ODI series, while paceman Lungi Ngidi misses out for personal reasons and batsman David Miller (hamstring) is also absent.

All-rounder Dwaine Pretorius is set to return at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo in a week that saw legendary South Africa paceman Dale Steyn announce his retirement.

Dinesh Chandimal makes his Sri Lanka return after a five-month absence, with Dasun Shanaka captaining the side in a series that forms part of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.

SHANAKA BULLISH AFTER INDIA TRIUMPH

Sri Lanka came from behind to secure a 2-1 Twenty20 series win over India in July.

Skipper Shanaka is eager to build on that triumph at the expense of the Proteas on home soil, with Lahiru Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana, and Pulina Tharanga in contention to make their debuts.

Shanaka said: "I think we have the winning momentum [following two T20I wins against India], and feel that if our spinners can get a lot of wickets, we should be able to win. We have a lot of advantages in this series.

"We have a lot of options on the spin front. We've got Wanindu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Maheesh Theekshana, Ramesh Mendis (offspin), Praveen Jayawickrama and other options. They're all in a good rhythm. I'm looking to play three spinners in the team. South Africa always have a good pace attack. But I think I can guarantee that we have the better spin-bowling contingent at the moment. I trust our team's strength."

 

HENDRICKS HOPING TO STRIKE BLOWS AFTER TAKING ONE

There was a scare for South Africa when Beuran Hendricks was struck above the eye by a drive from Pretorius during a practice session.

The seamer passed a concussion test and is determined to make his mark in Sri Lanka.

He said: "It's a dream to play for my country, I'm very proud to play for my country, and that's the patience for me. I don't take anything for granted when I'm at this level. I make sure that I'm fully focused and fully energised when I'm at this level.

"What goes on behind the scenes is out of my control. I've just got to make sure that I've prepared well, when I come on tour I'm fully fit, I need to be ahead of certain guys. Those are the things that run through my mind when I'm in this set-up. Try to make sure that I stay patient."
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- The last time South Africa toured Sri Lanka for a white-ball series was in 2018, when the tourists won a five-match ODI series 3-2. 
- The Proteas have won each of their past four multi-game bilateral ODI series against Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lanka have scored 40 per cent of their runs from boundaries in ODIs this year. Only Bangladesh have a lower rate (37%).
- South Africa have averaged a boundary every 8.8 balls in the 50-over format since the start of 2021. Only England and India have a better rate in this time (8.1).

Sri Lanka trio Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka have been banned from international cricket for a year after breaching the team's bio-secure bubble in England.

The players were in Durham preparing for the first of three ODIs against the world champions last month when they left the team hotel to visit the city centre despite strict COVID-19-related rules.

Batsmen Mendis and Gunathilaka and wicketkeeper-batsman Dickwella were sent home and have now been hit with strong sanctions.

The executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket took into account recommendation made by an independent panel of inquiry before handing down a 12-month ban from playing at international level and a six-month domestic suspension.

They were also given a further one-year ban, which is suspended for a two-year period.

Mendis, Dickwella and Gunathilaka have been fined 10million Sri Lanka Rupees (around £36,000) for their indiscretion.

 

Sri Lanka claimed a first ever T20I series victory over India as they beat their depleted opponents by seven wickets in the third and final match.

India were undefeated in the previous four series between the nations, yet a COVID-19 outbreak – nine players were put into isolation following a positive test for Krunal Pandya – had further decimated their ranks, considering several regulars are absent with the Test squad in England.

They did win the toss for the decider but were only able to post 81-8 from 20 overs, their third lowest total in the shortest format.

Wanindu Hasaranga was the star for Sri Lanka with the ball, claiming figures of 4-9 from his four overs of leg-spin, and Dasun Shanaka claimed two wickets.

Sri Lanka had few issues chasing such a meagre target, despite a sluggish start to their reply. Avishka Fernando (12), Minod Bhanuka (18) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (6) were the batsmen dismissed, all to the impressive Rahul Chahar (3-15).

Dhananjaya de Silva and Hasaranga made sure victory was secured with plenty of time to spare, finishing up on 23 and 14 not out respectively as the game finished midway through the 15th over following a wide bowled by Varun Chakravarthy.


Short of options, lacking in runs

India's squad suffered a further blow with Navdeep Saini ruled out of the winner-takes-all clash through injury. Sandeep Warrier, who had initially made the trip as a net bowler, was handed a debut, but the pace bowler had little to work with after the tourists' top order collapsed.

Captain Shikhar Dhawan fell for a first-ball duck as India slumped to 25-4 after 30 deliveries. Kuldeep Yadav finished up as the top scorer with 23 not out, one of just three players to reach double figures.

Happy birthday, Hasaranga! 

Hasaranga had already moved up to second in the T20I bowling rankings prior to producing career-best figures on Thursday. His dazzling spell included 15 dot balls, while he unsurprisingly did not concede a boundary. India did not manage to hit one six, either.

The birthday boy celebrated turning 24 in style, helping Sri Lanka win successive T20 games for the first time since October 2019 in the process, while India had not suffered back-to-back losses in the 20-over format since July 2017.

India went down by four wickets to Sri Lanka in Colombo on Wednesday, levelling their Twenty20 International series after losing a number of big names to a coronavirus outbreak.

The tourists will have to bounce back quickly ahead of Thursday's decider having come up just short of a victory that would have secured a fourth successive bilateral series success against Sri Lanka in this format.

Krunal Pandya's positive COVID-19 test prompted the postponement of this match on Tuesday and ruled out eight players as close contacts.

That meant there were four debutants in the India XI, with Ruturaj Gaikwad opening in a depleted batting line-up and Devdutt Padikkal coming in at number three, and Sri Lanka capitalised.

India made a promising start, but were restricted to 132-5 after being asked to bat first, captain Shikhar Dhawan top scoring with 40.

Although Minod Bhanuka (36) departed quickly after he was dropped by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sri Lanka remained within reach heading into the closing stages of their chase.

A brief late rain delay dragged out the drama and Sri Lanka – led by Dhananjaya de Silva (40 not out) – then immediately profited from a 12-run 19th over that brought them within eight, a target achieved with two balls to spare.

HERO TO ZERO

This should have been a night to remember for Bhuvneshwar, whose unbeaten career-high 13 in India's innings – batting up the order at six – was followed by his 50th wicket in the format. He is the fourth Indian bowler to this mark.

But, as well as that awful drop, he was the man running in for the 19th over, with Sri Lanka in complete control after Chamika Karunaratne hit a full toss for six.

TOUGH GROUNDING

For a time, it had appeared as though Bhuvneshwar was setting an example for Chetan Sakariya, the debutant seamer who struggled from the outset. Ultimately, they both contributed to India's defeat.

Starting alongside Bhuvneshwar in the attack, there were nine runs off Sakariya's first over and 10 off the second. A first wicket came in the third as Ramesh Mendis paid for his aggressive approach, but that over still brought eight and the miserable fourth saw Sri Lanka seal victory. Sakariya went for 34 off 3.4 overs.

The second Twenty20 International of the series between Sri Lanka and India has been put back a day after Krunal Pandya tested positive for coronavirus.

Pandya was in the India team that won the first match by 38 runs in Colombo on Sunday, but the all-rounder returned a positive test ahead of the second game scheduled to take place on Tuesday.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) revealed eight members of the touring party were identified as close contacts with Pandya, so they have been forced into isolation.

Sri Lanka and India will instead contest the second game on Wednesday, with the third and final game of the series taking place on Thursday.

The BCCI revealed RT-PCR tests were undertaken to discover if there has been any further outbreak in the squad.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar took four wickets as India eased to a 38-run win over Sri Lanka in the first T20 international on Sunday.

India posted 164-5 after they were asked to bat first in Colombo, with skipper Shikhar Dhawan's 46 and a 34-ball 50 from Suryakumar Yadav providing the bulk of the runs.

Dushmantha Chameera (2-24) and Wanindu Hasaranga (2-28) did the damage for Sri Lanka, but the majority of the home side's batsmen failed to fire after the interval.

Avishka Fernando (26) and Charith Asalanka (44) briefly gave Sri Lanka some hope, but Kumar (4-22) and Deepak Chahar (2-24) got the job done as the hosts were bowled out for 126 with nine balls to spare.

Sri Lanka were outclassed in their recent T20I series in England, which ended in a 3-0 loss, but even on home soil Mickey Arthur's side lack the batting firepower and they have now won just once in their previous 14 completed fixtures.

The second and third Twenty20 internationals in Colombo, both also at the R. Premadasa Stadium, take place on Tuesday and Thursday as both sides continue their preparations for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Kumar closes in on milestone

India seamer Kumar was cool during the business end of the match as he took three of the final four wickets to fall. He needs just one wicket to reach 50 in T20I action for India and become the fourth player to achieve this feat for the country.

Shanaka must deliver more

Sri Lanka lost their final six wickets for less than 15 runs and needed more from T20 captain Dasun Shanaka, who made a tame 14-ball 16. Shanaka is normally an aggressive middle-order batsman but his modest innings included just one four before he was stumped off the bowling of debutant Varun Chakravarthy.

Sri Lanka will be hoping a win in 50-over cricket can trigger a white-ball resurgence as they prepare to take on India in a three-match T20I series, beginning on Sunday in Colombo.

Half-centuries from Avishka Fernando and Bhanuka Rajapaksa helped Sri Lanka win the third and final ODI between the nations on Friday, just their second win in 11 outings.

They have struggled in T20 action too, winning just once in their previous 13 completed fixtures. Home advantage should help, yet they have not triumphed at the R. Premadasa Stadium – the venue for all three of the upcoming fixtures against India – in the shortest format since August 2018.

Runs were hard to come by on the recent tour of England, including being bowled out for 91 in the final match as the hosts completed an emphatic 3-0 sweep at the Ageas Bowl.

Sri Lanka at least avoided that fate against India in one-day action, aided by a turning track on Friday that allowed their spinners to trigger a batting collapse – the tourists lost their final seven wickets for just 68 runs following a rain delay.

They could also be boosted by the return of Wanindu Hasaranga, who missed the final ODI due to an injury concern.

India, meanwhile, remain without a number of their star names, so these games provide crucial opportunities for fringe players as they look to impress, particularly as this is a World Cup year.

Pushing the boundaries

Sri Lanka have hit a boundary once every 7.7 balls faced in the powerplay overs since the beginning of 2020 in T20I action, the worst rate for any team in that period. 

India have the third-slowest rate, taking 5.6 balls for every boundary. Captain Shikhar Dhawan will hope to help lower that number as he continues to lead the team, while Prithvi Shaw could get the chance to stake his claim for a regular top-order spot.

Positive spin can help India

Varun Chakravarthy could finally be handed his international debut in the series. India appeared keen to pick the mystery spinner against England in the T20I series on home soil earlier this year, yet concerns over his level of fitness ruled him out of contention.

The 29-year-old is a compelling option, though. He has taken 25 wickets in 21 matches in the Indian Premier League, 17 of which came in a 2020 campaign for the Kolkata Knight Riders that saw him finish with an economy rate of 6.84 runs per over.

Key series facts

– India are unbeaten against Sri Lanka in multi-game bilateral T20I series (W3 D1). India have beaten Sri Lanka in each of the past three such series, the most recent meeting being in January 2020.

– Sri Lanka have one win from their past 11 completed T20I matches against India (L10). The solitary triumph was achieved in March 2018 when the Lions beat the Men in Blue by five wickets at the very same venue this match is being played.

– Since the beginning of 2020, only 43 per cent of the runs scored by Sri Lanka in men's T20I matches have come via boundaries, the lowest rate for any team in that period.

– Dasun Shanaka has a batting dot ball rate of 48 per cent in T20I matches since the beginning of 2020. Only two players have a higher rate than the Sri Lankan (Chris Gayle at 53 per cent and Andre Fletcher at 51 per cent, minimum 100 balls faced).

– Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs five wickets to reach 50 in T20I action for India. He will become the fourth player to achieve this feat for his country, with his career-best figures seeing him take 5-24 against South Africa in 2018.

Sri Lanka claimed a much-needed victory in the third and final match of the ODI series against India, chasing down a revised target of 227 with three wickets to spare in Colombo.

Opener Avishka Fernando made 76 and, despite a late wobble, Sri Lanka sealed just their second victory in 11 completed 50-over fixtures, with this their first success since beating Bangladesh in late May.

A much-changed India had reached 147-3 before a lengthy rain break changed the complexion of the innings. Following the resumption, they lost their final seven wickets for 68 runs to be bowled out for 225.

Prithvi Shaw (49), debutant Sanju Samson (46) and Suryakumar Yadav (40) all made useful contributions, while Akila Dananjaya and Praveen Jayawickrama claimed three wickets apiece for the hosts.

Sri Lanka's reply included a maiden half-century in the one-day format for Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who reached the milestone with successive boundaries during a second-wicket partnership worth 109.

Krishnappa Gowtham - another new name included in the India XI - eventually ended the stand, dismissing Rajapaksa for 65 in his opening over, while the impressive Fernando departed for 76 with victory in sight.

Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka had departed for a first-ball duck too, but Ramesh Mendis' unbeaten 15 saw the hosts across the line with 48 balls remaining.


Fresh faces for India

India had the chance to equal their record for most consecutive ODI victories against Sri Lanka, having gone into the contest on a five-match winning streak. However, a side featuring no fewer than five debutants was unable to seal a sweep.

Still, wicketkeeper-batsman Samson impressed in a run-a-ball innings that included five fours and a six, while fellow new faces Chetan Sakariya and Rahul Chahar both claimed two wickets.

Moving on up

This result was timely for Sri Lanka – and not just because of their recent wretched run of form in the white-ball format.

They sat second from bottom in the ICC's Cricket World Cup Super League prior to the game, with only Zimbabwe below them in the standings. This win lifts them one place, above the Netherlands, as they battle to qualify for the 2023 50-over tournament, which will be held in India.

Deepak Chahar was India's unlikely batting hero as his 69 not out inspired a thrilling ODI series-clinching win over Sri Lanka by three wickets.

India coasted to victory with 80 balls to spare in the first match of the three-game rubber in Colombo but they were left with a tall task when a magical leg-spin display from Wanindu Hasaranga (3-37) left them 193-7 after 35.1 overs in pursuit of 275-9.

Chahar, who has a highest first-class score of 57 not out, rode his luck at times and found a willing ally in fellow tailender Bhuveneshwar Kumar (19 not out), before swiping the winning runs through midwicket off Kasun Rajitha from the first ball of the final over.

Chahar also took 2-53 with the ball and began in a more customary new-ball partnership with Kumar, although the first-wicket stand had reached 77 by the time leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (3-50) had Minod Bhanuka held at midwicket for 36.

Bhanuka Rajapaksa was then caught behind first ball off a Chahal top-spinner, although patient half-centuries by opener Aviskha Fernando (50) and Charith Asalanka (65) – both dismissed by Kumar (3-54) – were the foundations of a solid Sri Lanka innings. Chamika Karunaratne provided some welcome late acceleration with 44 not out from 33 balls.

Hasaranga bowled the dangerous Prithvi Shaw with a googly and trapped stand-in India skipper Shikhar Dhawan lbw for 29, Ishan Kishan having dragged on a Rajitha long-hop.

Manish Pandey was unfortunate to be run out for 37 when Dasun Shanaka tipped a shot back down the ground onto the stumps from Suryakumar, who looked like playing a decisive hand before bring trapped lbw by Lakshan Sandakan for 53.

Sri Lanka captain Shanaka also removed the dangerous Hardik Pandya for nought, with his brother Krunal bowled by a beauty from Hasaranga to clear the way for Chahar to set up a grandstand finish.

Chahar in dreamland

India are now undefeated in their past 12 ODI series against Sri Lanka, winning 10, but they were left in the unusual position of needing a significant lower-order contribution. Chahar's undefeated 69 is the second-highest score by anyone in this format for his country batting at number eight or lower.

"Only one thing was going on in my mind: this is the kind of innings I've been dreaming of," he beamed while being named player of the match.

Sri Lanka fail to match Hasaranga heroics

Hasaranga dearly deserved to finish on the winning side, but the difference between his efforts and those of Sri Lanka's other frontline bowlers was significant. The wrist-spinner's economy rate of 3.7 was not backed up by Rajitha (7.4), Sandakan (7.1) or Dushmantha Chameera (6.5), who went wicketless in his 10 overs. Shanaka contributed 1-10 from his three overs, leaving himself curiously under-bowled.

Shikhar Dhawan led from the front with an unbeaten 86 as India cruised to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first ODI in Colombo.

The hosts headed into the contest on the back of coronavirus-interrupted preparations and ructions behind the scenes between players and the national board, but scrapped their way to a competitive 262-9 despite no player passing 50.

Dhawan - captaining a largely second-string India, given Virat Kohli's Test squad have departed for their Test series in England next month - ensured the tourists reached their target with 80 balls to spare, while debutant Ishan Kishan (59) and Prithvi Shaw (43) also impressed - the latter hitting nine of his 24 deliveries to the boundary.

Avishka Fernando and wicketkeeper Minod Bhanuka put on 49 for the opening wicket before Fernando lobbed Yuzvendra Chahal's (2-52) first delivery to Manish Pandey at short cover to depart for 33.

Leg-spinner Chahal excelled in tandem with slow left-armer Kuldeep Yadav (2-48), who accounted for Bhanuka (27) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa – the number three's breezy 24 from 22 deliveries briefly threatening to change the tempo – to leave Sri Lanka 89-3.

From that point it was a repeated story of useful contributions without anything substantial. New captain Dasun Shanaka and Charith Asalanka diligently compiled 39 and 38 respectively before each falling to swing bowler Deepak Chahar (2-37), while Krunal Pandya's miserly left-arm spin (1-26) snared up the middle overs, leaving Chamika Karunaratne's unbeaten 43 off 35 balls as Sri Lanka's highest score.

Shaw made it clear India would not be shackled in similar fashion as he climbed into Sri Lanka from the off.

 

Isuru Udana's two overs disappeared for 27 – including three successive fours through the covers - and the score was 58 when Fernando caught Shaw at long-on off Dhananjaya de Silva, whose two wickets came at a steep cost of 49 runs in five overs.

Kishan, who enjoyed an unforgettable 23rd birthday, ensured there was little let-up. He danced down the pitch to dispatch Dhananjaya for six first ball, clattering the next for four more through cover point.

The youngster reached a half-century in 33 balls and edged his 42nd behind off Lakshan Sandakan but Dhawan remained as a regal presence, finding further willing allies in Manish Pandey (26) and Suryakumar Yadav (31 not out) to complete a resounding victory.

Shanaka wants more variety from Sri Lanka

The difference between two – in isolation, at least – impressive opening partnerships set the tone for the contest. But the end of the first powerplay, Sri Lanka were 55-1. India were already up to 91-1 after 10 overs. "The Indians batted aggressively," Shanaka said. "We needed to vary the pace as the ball was coming on to the bat nicely. In the next game, we will have to improve on that."

Dhawan laughing as the elder statesman

When you've top-scored as a victorious captain and also surpassed 6,000 career ODI runs, there is perhaps no better time for self-deprecation. Dhawan certainly thought so, claiming he did not have the required shots to reach three figures with an exciting young batting line-up firing all around him.

"I was telling them to take it easy actually," he beamed, before chuckling his way through a post-match presentation where Shaw was named player of the match despite scoring half as many runs as his skipper.

"The way these young boys play in the IPL, they get lots of exposure and they just finished the game in the first 15 overs only. I thought about my hundred but there were not many runs left. When Surya came out to bat, I thought I need to improve my skills."

A second-string India side will start their ODI series in Sri Lanka as favourites, with the hosts heading into Sunday's opener in Colombo against a backdrop of multi-faceted chaos.

The start of the series was delayed by five days due to a coronavirus outbreak in the Sri Lanka camp, with batting coach Grant Flower and team data analyst GT Niroshan testing positive for the Delta variant.

Sri Lanka's squad were allowed to leave isolation and resume their preparations last weekend after returning negative PCR tests.

ESPNcricinfo reported team doctors believed Flower and Niroshan's infections stemmed from the recent tour of England, where the home team suffered a breach of their bio-secure bubble that forced them to name a reserve line-up for their subsequent ODI games against Pakistan.

Although Sri Lanka do not find themselves in quite such a selection bind, they remain without deposed captain Kusal Perera due to a shoulder injury and Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka remain suspended for breaking COVID-19 protocols during the England tour.

Dasun Shanaka will skipper the team, a previously bit-part white ball player having ascended to the role amid a stand-off between Sri Lanka's players and their board over playing contracts.

They will emerge from a troubled period to take on an India side captained by opener Shikhar Dhawan and with pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar second in command.

India batting great Rahul Dravid has been named as coach for the tour, with the first-choice side awaiting their forthcoming series in England.

Batsmen Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Nitish Rana, all-rounder K Gowtham and left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya have all been handed maiden call-ups.

 

Bhuvi ready to put injury woes to one side

Kumar will be the leader of fast bowling unit also featuring Sakariya, Navdeep Saini and Deepak Chahar. Having been beset by injury problems over recent years, he was back to his best in the March limited-overs series against England. In the ODIs, he took six wickets at a miserly economy rate of 4.65.

Shanaka must show leadership class

Irrespective of how and why Shanaka became Sri Lanka captain, he is now the man in possession of a role that tends not to promise longevity for incumbents. He will need to improve upon 611 runs and 10 wickets from his 28 ODI appearances to date to turn some unhelpful conversations around.

Key Opta facts

- India are undefeated in their past 11 ODI series against Sri Lanka (W9, D2). Their previous defeat was a 3-0 reverse way back in 1997.
- India have won each of eight most recent ODIs in Sri Lanka, all versus the host country. It is a streak that began after a nine-wicket loss in 2012.
- Sri Lanka have at least won their past five ODIs at the R. Premadasa Stadium. The last time they enjoyed a longer winning run at the venue in this format was a six-match span from December 2001 to September 2002.
- Dhawan will become the 25th player to captain India in ODIs. He requires 23 more runs to become the 10th Indian player to register 6,000 runs in 50-over internationals.

England's third ODI series clash with Sri Lanka was abandoned on Sunday after torrential rain in Bristol. 

The match was initially suspended in the 34th over of Sri Lanka's innings due to rain, although play resumed after a delay of almost 40 minutes. 

Dasun Shanaka hit an unbeaten 48 as the visitors posted 166 all out. 

England, hoping to seal a 3-0 series win, never had the chance to respond, though, the match abandoned after relentless rain for around 90 minutes following Sri Lanka's innings. 

England are next in action on Thursday in the first ODI against Pakistan in Cardiff, while Sri Lanka start their own ODI series against India on July 13. 

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.

Joe Root reached 6,000 runs in one-day action as he steered England to a five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the series opener at the Riverside.

England's Test skipper did not feature in the recent Twenty20 series between the nations but returned to international duty with an unbeaten 79, in the process putting Sri Lanka's below-par total of 185 into context.

Moeen Ali weighed in with 28 after coming in at 83-4, the home team having suffered a middle-order wobble after opener Jonny Bairstow (43 off 21 deliveries) had given them a flying start.

The impressive Dushmantha Chameera struck twice but Sri Lanka's slim hopes were hit by two costly drops, all-rounder Ali put down from his first ball by wicketkeeper Kusal Perera before Root was missed in the deep when on 36. England eventually eased over the line with 91 balls to spare.

Captain Perera had top-scored with 73 but the tourists never appeared to have enough on the scoreboard in the first of three ODI games between the teams.

Chris Woakes claimed two early wickets on his way to outstanding figures of 4-18, Sri Lanka – left with a depleted squad after three players were sent home for breaching COVID-19 protocols – quickly slipping to 46-3.

They recovered thanks to a stand worth 99 as the impressive Wanindu Hasaranga contributed 54 in combination with his skipper, only to then lose their last six wickets for just 40 runs.

Sri Lanka's cause was not helped by two run outs to wrap up the innings midway through the 43rd over, David Willey having backed up opening partner Woakes by taking 3-44.

 

England held together by Root

Root is the second English batsman to register 6,000 runs in ODI cricket, with only Eoin Morgan (6,882) managing more. The right-hander reached the number in his 141st inning in the format, the same number as the legendary Viv Richards needed. Indeed, only Hashim Amla (123), Virat Kohli (136) and Kane Williamson (139) have done it faster.

Woakes keeps Sri Lanka in check

Perera became the 17th Sri Lankan batsman to register 3,000 one-day runs, though only Hasaranga offered any real support. Seam bowler Woakes set the tone from the outset for England as he ended up bowling five maidens in an outstanding 10-over stint.

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