With the series against Sri Lanka sealed, England are set to ring the changes for Tuesday’s Fifth ODI – but Jonny Bairstow is highly unlikely to be involved as he goes for a scan on the ankle he injured playing football on Friday.
In Bairstow’s absence England won the Fourth ODI by 18 runs on DLS to take a 3-0 series lead, but still have four unused squad players. Eoin Morgan, the captain, said that changes should be expected so regular Liam Plunkett will likely return, while Sam Curran, Mark Wood and Joe Denly should get their chance to stake a claim for next year’s World Cup.
“There’s an opportunity in Colombo to make some changes, particularly with guys who haven’t played yet,” he said. “There are guys who have played and haven’t had much chance, like Jos [Buttler] who’s only batted once. We have to make the most of what is probably a bad situation for opportunity, so we might see some guys coming in.
“Just because we've won the series doesn't mean we don't want to win the next game. We're going to be trying our nuts off to win that next game, it's an important game but also maybe an opportunity to look at some other guys as well.”
Morgan did say, however, that the structure of the side is unlikely to change, so there would be no radical promotion up the order for Buttler, a move some members of the backroom have long craved. Alex Hales – or perhaps even Denly – are set to continue opening, with Bairstow again set to be sidelined with the right ankle injury that was iced on Saturday and will be scanned on Sunday in Colombo. Morgan said there was no plans to ditch the football warm up that the players so enjoy.
Morgan was pleased to wrap up the series but was disappointed with England’s fielding. Hales dropped Dashun Shanaka, while Buttler missed a stumping chance.
“Our fielding wasn’t good,” he said. “Average. It’s definitely something we can improve on. We were better the last game but today we weren’t anywhere near as good as we should be.
“I thought today was quite a scrappy game. (We had) the better of the conditions having won the toss and bowled. We felt the wicket was a little bit more tacky, turned a little more than it did than when we batted but we felt that Sri Lanka crept up to a very competitive score. But throughout the Sri Lanka innings we also felt the wicket got better so we also felt getting a partnership together that we could build something. The run-rate isn't going to fly through the roof when you're chasing 270 and with the short boundaries here at Pallekele we felt well in the game.
“One of the positives of the side we have now is that we don’t have a lot of sit down meetings and prescribed plans. Everything is about adapting because every game is different, and doing what you need to do on the day to try to get a win. The two spinners are a good example of that. Adil [Rashid] and Mo [Ali] bowled out quite early because it looked like it would rain earlier, so we bowled our two best bowlers out because we thought it might have been an advantage if the game stopped.”