With one tied match, one victory and a rained out game, England are well in control of the five-match one-day series. Sri Lanka have been competitive, but haven't been good enough to overhaul England in even one match. With two games to go, they still have a chance to square the series. But, the manner in which they have performed in the series, that looks like a rather theoretical one. If rain does not intervene, England will once again go into the match as favourites. And, if all goes well, should end up clinching the series at Kennington Oval on Wednesday. They will be disappointed if they don't achieve the same.
England have proved to be superior to the visitors in all departments, and the Lankans haven't had much answers for what the hosts have thrown at them. If James Anderson and Stuart Broad exploited the conditions well in the Tests, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett have done the same in ODIs so far. In the last match that was rained out, both Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett bowled with vigour and constantly troubled the Lankan batsmen. They were rewarded for the same with wickets. Both have, in fact, played their part with the bat too. In the tied game, Woakes made 90 plus while Plunkett hit the famous last-ball six.
Skipper Eoin Morgan will be extremely pleased with the team's batting effort as well. Apart from Woakes, Jos Buttler was also brilliant in the opening match of the series. In the next ODI, the openers put on a record stand to take England to a memorable 10-wicket win. In the process, both Jason Roy and Alex Hales registered excellent centuries. And while the others may not have fired, they have a strong batting line-up. The likes of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and skipper Morgan himself will be expected to do well. So England still have a lot to play for.
If Sri Lanka wanted to do well in the series, it was imperative that their batsmen stood up, since they do not really possess the bowlers to trouble the Englishmen, especially under the prevalent conditions. But, their batting, to be fair, has been a mixed bag. A lot was expected of Dinesh Chandimal and skipper Angelo Mathews in the series, but their fitness has let them down. As so, while they have got some runs, it has not been in convincing fashion. For the rest like, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis, it has been a rather big struggle.
If Sri Lanka want to look at the positives in the series, one has definitely been the performance of Seekkuge Prasanna, who has impressed with both bat and ball in phases. He will look to build on his efforts. As for Upul Tharanga, the decision to play him lower in the order has been received with mixed reactions, but he has done his chances no harm with a decent show. Bowling, as expected, has been a problem with Farveez Maharoof, Dasun Shanaka, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep all failing to make an impress. The Lankans will have their task cut out as they look to save the series.
--By A Cricket Analyst