Lahiru Kumara comes back for his second spell. Morgan cannot time the pull stroke off the right-arm quick, nor beat the circle with his drives. Four dot balls, therefore, start the over until Morgan flat bats a pull through mid-on for one. Just the single off the over.
Superb use of a review by Sri Lanka given how far down Bairstow was. Morgan works a single through square leg off his second ball and Buttler cannot pierce the infield off the final two balls of Hasaranga’s second over which ends with figures of 2-0-5-2.
That’s the end of the Powerplay and the field spreads.
Bairstow lbw b Hasaranga 0 Came down the pitch to a googly and was struck a long way down, which is why the umpire didn’t give it. But Sri Lanka immediately reviewed and it was hitting leg stump. FOW 35/3
Chameera is brought back. Buttler steps across to the off-side to try to scoop his first fullish delivery and misses it. He tries the same shot to the next ball, which is considerably slower. Buttler adjusts and plays an extraordinary stroke with a vertical bat, rolling his wrists towards third man to dink a single to the keeper’s right.
Fine stroke from Malan, picking the ball off middle and off to chip it over midwicket for four. Chameera comes round the wicket and cramps the left-hander next ball. No run. A very tight shorter ball ought to have been Malan’s undoing as he tried to pull and the ball whistled past his box via a feather of an edge. But it dropped short of the keeper, though that may be a charitable description given the reaction of his team-mates. Malan falls next ball anywat.
Malan b Chameera 6 High hands on this pitch are a second England batsman’s undoing. He plays an expansive drive to one that juts wasn’t there to drive, the ball scoots under his stroke and crashes into off and middle. FOW 34/2
A third bowling change brings Theekshana – the mystery spinner who can bowl orthodox off-breaks and carrom balls like Livingstone – and Malan takes his first ball for a single with a push through midwicket. Buttler struggles against the next three, unable to get them off the square, unsure about picking him from the hand. He, too, uses his feet and works the ball to midwicket for a single. Theekshana makes a gift of two wides to England, bowling across Malan from round the wicket and drifting past the left-hander’s leg stump.
Contrasting boundaries for Buttler off the 90mph flyer Lahiru Kumara. The first is a glorious back-foot drive on the up through extra for four, the second a flukey thick inside-edge, a French drive between keeper and fine leg. Looked as though it jagged in a good inch or so.
Poor fielding at backward point turns a single into two and Buttler ends with another dot ball when the ball fails to climb and hits the toe of his bat. This pitch messes with heads as well as timing.
Hasaranga shares the new ball, fresh from his hat-trick last time out. Buttler comes down to the leg-break bowler and works a quick single to midwicket. Roy departs to be replaced by Malan who gets off strike from his second ball with a crisp push to cover, for a single. Buttler picks the googly and defends it off the back foot. Beautiful bowling. Buttler farms the strike with a big stride and whip to midwicket for a single.
Cordings of Piccadilly seem to have kitted out the red-trousered Englishmen, who, along with Sri Lanka, take a knee before the first ball.
Roy works a very hard run two off hos pads behind square then mistimes a back-foot punch because the ball didn’t get up and he hit it with the tow. Very low bounce. Roy comes down the track and laces a cover drive for four, perfect symmetry. Roy whips a single to deep backward square off a shin-height, good length delivery. No slips for Buttler. His back-foot punch brings him three to deep extra cover. My they’re gazelles between the wickets.
A misfield at third man gives Roy two off his choppy cut. Good start.
England’s Twenty20 World Cup juggernaut rolls into Sharjah this afternoon to play Sri Lanka where victory would give them the points to guarantee the semi-final spot their dominance so far deserves. It’s the biggest stadium but slowest pitch and smallest playing area in the Super 12s, producing the highest three totals – Bangladesh’s 171 for four chased down by Sri Lanka’s 172 for five and Afghanistan’s 190 for four in their annihilation of Scotland.
Bangladesh’s left-armers did most damage in last week’s nipper against West Indies, which might suggest that David Willey could be a useful option if England are minded to give some of their squad players a game and there may be some benefit to seeing how Mark Wood bears up following his return from injury with the semi-finals in mind. Willey, after all, took three for 36 in their sole previous T20 match at this stadium, one they dramatically tied with Pakistan back in 2015. But there is such flintiness to Eoin Morgan’s captaincy that it seems far more likely that he will stick with the same XI who have demolished West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia.
Given that England have won their past six matches against Sri Lanka and even inflicted the only defeat on them in Bangladesh in 2014 when SL became world champions (a match in which Morgan, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Chris Jordan all played), England would be overwhelming favourites even if their form was less commanding.
However, nothing has ever gone smoothly for them. Even in 2010 when they won it and two years ago when they finally won the 50-over World Cup, they lost group matches, none more surprising than the defeat by today’s opponents at Headingley. Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka are batting very well for Sri Lanka’s bold new side while the leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga has taken 11 wickets at 10.54 and at an economy rate below six and the off-spinner Maheesh Thakshana has eight at 12.87 with an econ rate of merely 6.05.
England’s steamroller would normally flatten better teams than this highly promising but transitional Sri Lanka team but they are not without hope. Play starts at 2pm GMT. Join us for the toss and team news from 1.30pm.