Last-Gasp Plunkett Saves England

Plunkett and Woakes celebrate his last-gasp six

With the last ball of the game, and England needing a six to draw, Yorkshire all-rounder Liam Plunkett faced Sri Lankan Nuwan Pradeep. Pradeep had bowled four brilliant balls in the final over, including three superb yorkers, but Plunkett stepped up to belt a huge six over long-off to send the Trent Bridge crowd into raptures.
Sri Lanka will be asking themselves how they managed to throw away a victory, after putting themselves in command of the game.

In Sri Lanka’s innings opener Kushal Perera started brightly enough hitting 24 before being caught off the bowling of Wiley. Dinesh Chandimal then teamed up with his Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews for a superb 64 partnership. Chandimal feel to spinner Moeen Ali.

In came Seekkuge Prasanna, and he continued wher he left off a few days ago in Malahide, where he walloped Ireland all over the park for a wonderful 97 runs. In 29 minutes at the Trent Bridge crease he smashed 59 runs off just 28 balls, in a thrilling cameo, as Sri Lanka it seemed would easily reach 300 and probably even more. With Mathews an able deputy, Prasannna was having the time of his life, belting the luckless Plunkett all over Trent Bridge.

But Prasanna went for one big hit too many, and was caught and bowled by Chris Woakes. It was a big breakthrough for England, as at that stage Sri Lanka were 188/5. Mathews needed to stay in the middle if Sri Lanka were to make a decent score, but he also needed help. Unfortunately for Mathews, and Sri Lanka, only Shanaka and Maharoof came to his aid, with 20 and 31 respectively. Sri Lanka ended their innings on 286/9, and it appeared to most watching that it would be a tad short.

However, they had England reeling on 82/6 as captain Angelo Mathews and Suranga Lakmal tore into England’s batsmen. When Jos Buttler came to the crease it just looked like it was a matter of time before Sri Lanka would claim victory.

Things changed after Sri Lankan captain Mathews had to leave the field with an apparent hamstring injury. It was a blow, as he had such a huge impact in the game up to that stage.

But, after Eoin Morgan, who had looked comfortable before he was caught by Chandimal, and Moeen Ali left, Chris Woakes came in and forged a superb partnership with Buttler.

Their seventh-wicket partnership of 138 was an England ODI record which brought them back into the game. It wasn’t down to fours and sixes that got them back into the game, it was down to excellent running between the wickets by both batters as they tacked on run after run. Some sloppy fielding by Sri Lanka didn’t help their cause either.

Butler eventually went for 93, after being superbly caught by Shanaka, who lept five feet off the ground to catch his effort on the boundary. At that stage all the momentum was with the visitors. But Woakes was still batting with great authority, even though he was running out of overs, as well as partners afterWiley went for seven.

With four overs to bowl, in came Plunkett, as England needed 51. Plunkett did his job well, getting Woakes back on strike when required, and then stepped up himself when the chips were down. It was an amazing end to a game that ebbed and flowed in both directions, and we look forward to the next one on Friday.

Man-of-the-match Chris Woakes

Chris Woakes was named man-of-the-match after the game, with 95 not out combined with taking two wickets, that of Kusal Mendis and the very dangerous Seekkuge Prasanna. His 95 was also the highest score by a number 8 batsman in ODI history.

Sri Lanka captain Mathews said, “We fell 15 or 20 runs short with the bat. We should have got at least 300 on that wicket. But we lost wickets at crucial times and had to push back our attacking roles.”

Asked about his fitness for the second ODI on Friday, “As for me, my hamstring is a little stiff, so we’ll see how I am in a few days.” Hamstring injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from in a short space of time, and you’d have to think that he would be a doubtful starter for thesecon ODI. Sri Lanka’s chances of winning the series would be somewhat diminished should he be ruled out of the rest of the tour.

England captain Eoin Morgan said, “Buttler, Woakes and Plunkett dug us out of a real hole. Buttler guided us through and Woakes played out of his skin. To come out of that with a tie is pleasing. A performance like that though can mask what a poor day we had with the ball in the field, and with the bat early on.”

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