England came into this fifth one day international knowing that only a win would do. The tourists who are 3-1 down really needed a win to keep this series alive as a contest. Both sides made some changes to their teams from the last game. The hosts Sri Lanka included available again spinner Sachintra Sennaiyake who has remodelled his action since being banned by the International cricket council for his ‘illegal bowling action’ , Sennayake comes in for the injured Rangana Herath
As for England, the tourists welcomed back captain Alistair Cook who sat out the last game due to a one match ban for a slow over rate, Alex Hales was the man to make way. Struggling all rounder Ben Stokes is dropped, spinner James Tredwell comes in to give England another spin option. The match itself which had to be played over two days due to the rain, was a very hard fought game.
The tourists won the toss and to the surprise of many Alistair cook put the hosts into bat. The pitch at Pelekelle was expected to be a pitch which had turn, that would explain the array of spinners on show.
Sri Lanka after being put in by Cook, got off to the worst possible start. Kusal Pererra falling for yet another duck. After losing their first wicket with just three on the board it was left to the experienced pairing of Kumar Sangakarra and Tilkeratne Dilshan to rebuild the innings.
The veteran duo put on 51 for the second wicket, the second wicket stand was broken by Chris Jordan who bowled Dilshan for 35. England despite taking two wickets quite early were only to aware of Sri Lanka’s batting line up.
Despite the loss of the usually reliable Mahela Jayawardena for just two which left the Sri Lankan’s in the precarious position of 59-3, the hosts managed to make a recovery of sorts as Angelo Matthews and Sangakarra managed to put on 85 for the fourth wicket.
When the captain Matthews departed for a well crafted 40, at that stage the hosts were 144-4 but- the wheels started to come of a little for Sri Lanka there after. The highest score after the loss of Matthews’ wicket was 26. When the Asian side lost the wicket of Sangakarra who played brilliantly for his 91, it was only Thisara Pererra who made any form of contribution. The Hyderabad Sunrisers star scored a quick fire 27 off just 16 balls, the 24 year old Pererra scored four 4’s and one 6 in his innings.
Sri Lanka’s batting order suffered a middle order collapsed, at one stage Sri Lanka were 173-5 – but in the end the hosts crumbled to 239 all out. Chris Woakes despite skipper using 25 of the allotted 50 overs to spin was the star for the tourists, Woakes’ variations were causing havoc for the Sri Lankan batsmen. Warwickshire all- rounder Woakes took an impressive five wicket haul and finished the innings with 6-47.
England in reply had to wait a day to get their run chase up and running. The Sri Lankan rain meant that the Three Lions had to complete their innings today (a day later than what was initially planned). The tourists who were chasing what seemed to be a modest total still needed to be aware of the threat that Sri Lanka posed with their four spinners.
Just like Sri Lanka, England lost lost an early wicket – Moeen Ali who is top run scorer for England in this series the man out bowled by Sennayake. The platform was set for under performing captain Alistair Cook to take this game by the scruff of the neck after his side lost such an early wicket, that wasn’t to happen however as the England captain would be the next wicket to fall.
The tourists were 35-2 at that stage and were in serious danger of being dismissed for a low total. The remodelled action of Sennayaka proved to difficult for England’s openers, England needed to regroup and regroup they did.
A brilliant third wicket stand of 104 between James Taylor and Joe Root helped England to seize the initiative in this game. Taylor and Root brilliantly kept the scoreboard ticking with sensible batting which was attacking -but not over aggressive.
When James Taylor was caught for a well played 68, Sri Lanka must have thought they could pray on potential English nerves – a fourth wicket stand of 86 though however, effectively killed this game off as a contest.
There was time for Sri Lanka to take another couple of wickets, Ravi Boapara was out caught by Thrimanne with the winning line in sight, Eoin Morgan was caught by Thisara Pererra with two needed. After that little ‘wobble’ England duly crossed the winning line with five balls to spare, clinching a five wicket win to only trail 3-2 and give them selves renewed hope in the seven match series.
Key to this victory was Joe Root’s brilliant 104, the Yorkshireman was coolness personfied as England ended up needing two days to secure the win. The sixth One Day International between the two sides is on Saturday.