The weather, rather than Sri Lanka, appears to be the biggest threat to England wrapping up victory in the ODI Series at the Oval today.
A bank of heavy rain is expected to move through Kennington from around 3pm which could lead to a truncated game – something which would suit the tourists if they bat second – or indeed another abandonment like at Bristol on Sunday.
Bar the first game where England snatched a tie thanks to Liam Plunkett’s heroics with the bat, the hosts have been dominant and it appears a fair assumption, given the length of their batting line-up, that they may well have chased successfully but for the rain in Bristol.
It could be a case of more of the same today in London with Sri Lankan resembling England of past years with a style of play that belies the free-flowing and innovative approach they once boasted.
Their attack lacks penetration, the batting relies too heavily on captain Angelo Matthews and Dinesh Chandimal, while Upal Thuranga is charged with holding a brittle lower order together for a late thrash. Contrast with England who have pace and swing in their attack not to mention subtlety courtesy of the improving Adil Rashid who must surely be the best No11 in World cricket.
Today’s venue provided a great game 12 months ago when the Kiwis posted a score verging on 400 and England fell just 13 short.
At present, the hosts look the only side capable of reaching anywhere near those figures at the moment and Si Lanka’s leading hope of squaring the series seems to rest around a rain-interrupted fixture where they can bat last and chase a reduced total.
Jason Roy, confidence high from a blistering century at Edgbaston, returns to his home ground and could top the batting honours for England with a quicker pitch likely to suit his style.
There is a belief there is more grass on the pitch than expected which could help England’s seamers, especially Chris Woakes who has finally begun to enjoy some fruits for his labours in recent games.
The Warwickshire all-rounder is another that should relish any pace and bounce on offer and backing him to be top wicket taker has paid out in two of the three games to date.