1st over: Sri Lanka 8-0 (Perera 1, Gunathilaka 7) David Willey has the new ball. If ever it’s going to swing for him you would expect it to be here, but there’s precious little evidence of it straight away. Two balls on the pads, knocked away for first one, then two into the on-side. Gunathilaka, whose average has plummeted over the course of this series if my memory serves, gets the first boundary of the day with a very nice little push back past the bowler and down to long-off. He adds a single off the last.
Blimey, we’re going to start on time. Wasn’t expecting that, to be honest. The dark rainclouds are looming and heading in from Crystal Palace way, but the players are making their way out stoically nonetheless.
The teams in full
JJ Roy, AD Hales, JE Root, EJG Morgan*, JM Bairstow, JC Buttler†, CR Woakes, DJ Willey, MM Ali, AU Rashid, LE Plunkett
MDKJ Perera, MD Gunathilaka, BKG Mendis, WU Tharanga, LD Chandimal†, AD Mathews*, MD Shanaka, MF Maharoof, S Prasanna, N Pradeep, RAS Lakmal
Toss and team news
The good news is that the covers are off for the toss. England win and will have a bowl first, as they have in every match so far. One change, Moeen comes back for Jordan what with the pitch and the bigger boundaries.
Angelo Mathews would also have fielded first. His side is unchanged.
It was raining when I left my flat in Tooting at about 10.30 (and subsequently got into work way too early) but it’s just about holding out in Kennington for the time being. However the rain radar does not look good.
So in the meantime, why not read about how Eoin Morgan has been inspired by Iceland beating England. Whether that’s an English team losing or the massive underdogs coming from behind to beat the heavy favourites, I’m not convinced either augurs well for Morgan’s team.
Afternoon, folks. This has been a frustrating old series for England. Sri Lanka have been poor and have got worse as it has gone on yet Eoin Morgan’s team, for whatever reasons, only hold the slenderest of leads. At Trent Bridge a top order collapse meant England could barely scrape a tie with six off the last ball. At Bristol the rain ruined their chances after Sri Lanka hit just three sixes and 15 fours (shared between four players) in a frankly woeful batting performance on one of the country’s smallest international grounds.
The good news for England, then, is that a win at the Oval today will wrap up this ODI series with a game to spare. Sri Lanka are overly reliant on Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews to score runs, and even then they seem to always end up consolidating after early collapses then getting out shortly after reaching 50. On top of that, they bizarrely insist on hiding their best batsman down at No7 in the order. They may have taken Alex Hales out for a duck on Sunday, but their bowling isn’t particularly penetrative either. Put another way, England should win this and win it well.
That is of course assuming the rain stays away. The bad news for England is that it probably won’t. I don’t live too far from the Oval and the road by my flat has been flooded more than once in the past week so, if the forecast from the Met Office is to be believed, this could be a frustrating afternoon once again.
Play is due to begin at 1pm BST, because of late night noise restrictions in the area apparently. That is 5.30pm Sri Lankan time. That’s a funny one, as Google suggests that Sri Lanka is now only four-and-a-half hours ahead of the UK, when I could have sworn it was five-and-a-half previously in this series. Not that it matters a jot, because either way that is exactly when the rain is expected to start falling. Until then, some music.