Maybe the rains have done Sri Lanka a favor. At least there is no chance that England can beat them 5-0, as India and South Africa have done in the last 21 months. But even though the visitors have been comfortable winners, as expected, in the matches that have been completed, there is hope for Sri Lanka. In the first place, the average order has been semi-competent: Dasun Shanaka produced the best entries of the Sri Lanka series in the ODI quarter, while Thisara Perera maintained his good form with the bat. Akila Dananjaya's bowling continues to impress as well, even if Sri Lanka has great confidence in him for breakthroughs through intermediates. After the Asian Cup debacle, even these minor positive aspects deserve a celebration.
For England, the fifth ODI will be an exercise in a) not taking off the boots of the opposition throats and b) testing the marginal players on their side, as they try to confirm who deserves a place in the team of the World Cup, which should be named in April. So dominant has been his average order in this series that it seems that, while England does not rest too many key members of their batting lineup, Sri Lanka will have to score 30 or 40 runs more than the pair score in order to have the opportunity to deny the visitors a 4-0 victory.
The rain, as always, has the possibility of avoiding a complete match. Thunderstorms are expected sometime in the afternoon. If a match can not be completed on Tuesday, the rest will be completed on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka LLLLL (matches completed, the most recent first)
In the spotlight
Niroshan Dickwella was not on the Asian Cup team, and has had a point to prove in this series, even if he has not done everything possible to achieve it. His aggressive 36 in the 21-game match last Wednesday helped Sri Lanka get off to a surprising start but failed to get a good score. He changed tactics for Saturday's game and tried a more patient approach with 52 out of 70. On both occasions, there was still the feeling that Dickwella was halfway out of work, given the kind of way he is. The coaches of Sri Lanka have been
England has managed to keep winning while dodging the showers. Sri Lanka, but several batters have been left in lack of training. Jos Buttler has faced only 25 balls, with a chance in four games, and would surely be interested in some intermediate moment in Colombo. There are many who advocate pushing Buttler on the order of limited internationals, to make full use of his destructive power, something that England has shown flexibility in the past. One way they could assure him an extra shot could be for captain Eoin Morgan, England's leading hitter with 195 runs for once in the series, to rest, as he has on previous occasions.
England has a group of players that will want to try: Joe Denly, Sam Curran and Mark Wood among them. Jason Roy, Olly Stone, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes can make their way, with Liam Plunkett looking for a game, in addition to joining the team later after their wedding. Jonny Bairstow has been ruled out of the rest of the white-ball leg of this tour after damaging the ankle ligaments while playing football last week. He will be evaluated in the run up to the Test series next month.
England (possible): 1 Joe Denly, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (week), 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Tom Curran, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood
The horrible form of Kusal Mendis can pave the way back to Upul Tharanga. Dushmantha Chameera or Nuwan Pradeep may also be in the settling of accounts for a game, instead of Kasun Rajitha, whose lack of knowledge of fielding restrictions in the fourth game cost Sri Lanka the vital wrench of Joe Root.
Sri Lanka (possible): 1 Niroshan Dickwella (week), 2 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 3 Dinesh Chandimal (capt.), 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Dhananjaya de Silva, 6 Dasun Shanaka, 7 Thisara Perera , 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Amila Aponso, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Dushmantha Chameera
Pitch and conditions
The pitch looks good for hitting. Khettarama is, of course, the friendliest places with turns in the ODI grounds in Sri Lanka, so also wait a bit. The rain will probably interrupt or delay the game at some point.
Statistics and trivia
Dickwella has achieved at least 20 in 11 of his last 25 entries in ODI. Of those 11 times, he has crossed 50 just three times, and has a high score of 69.
Overall, the hitters of Sri Lanka have been sad to put up big scores. No one has won a hundred ODI this year; the last wine by Angelo Mathews in December.
Joe Root needs 64 races to reach 5000 in ODI. If he arrives in Colombo, he will be the fourth fastest batter of the mark behind Hashim Amla, Viv Richards and Virat Kohli
. Adil Rashid has been the most impressive bowler in the series so far. He has taken an equal highest score of five windows, with an average of 17.4.
"The superior order and the middle order have to click to help us get to a great total." As a batting unit, "We did well in the last game. We did not lose by a large margin, so we are satisfied with the effort. "
Opener of Sri Lanka Niroshan Dickwella