World No 1 T20 batsman Dawid Malan hits an impressive 76 from 48 balls in a crushing 89-run win over Sri Lanka as England win series 3-0
- Dawid Malan produced an excellent display as England overcame Sri Lanka
- Malan hit 76 from 48 balls with England managed to complete a 3-0 sweep
- After the game Malan emphasised that he relishes opening the batting
It says something of the rich resources England currently possess in short-form cricket that the world’s number one Twenty20 batsman came into this series finale under a bit of pressure.
Dawid Malan’s response was emphatic: his 12th 50-plus score in 27 appearances in this format proved the cornerstone of a crushing 89-run win over a Sri Lankan side that have dropped so low in the international standings they enter a Twenty20 World Cup that Eoin Morgan’s team have designs on winning this autumn at the qualifying stage.
The challenge for Malan, however, was provided not by the strength of the opposition but of rivals queueing up for top-order batting places behind him.
Dawid Malan hit 76 from 48 balls as England completed a 3-0 sweep against Sri Lanka
Talk has turned to possibly accommodating Ben Stokes at number three when he returns to fitness, while players of the ilk of Joe Root, top scorer for England at the last World Cup, and Alex Hales, who struck a hundred for Nottinghamshire on Saturday, do not feature in the current selection equation.
There have been quicker Malan 50s in T20s for England – two for the record – but this innings could not have been better timed following two single-figure flops in Cardiff.
And it came from his favoured opening position after Jason Roy was ruled out due to a tight hamstring. This was only the fourth occasion on which Malan has gone in first for his country.
‘I’ve always opened. Because I bat three for England – it was the only spot available – people think I’m a number three batter but I’m an opener, so it is back to doing what I do and what I feel comfortable with,’ Malan said, following a 48-ball 76 that began in his customary conservative manner before exploding into a shower of sixes.
Jonny Bairstow (left) congratulates Malan after scoring a 50 during the clash with Sri Lanka
‘We know how we want to play as a team, we are backed to play our way and sometimes that gets criticism, but we know our methods. The criticism does bother me sometimes, but it drives me as well. I like to prove a point so when I do get criticised, I like going out there and proving wrong those with their opinions.’
A hundred stand with Jonny Bairstow – after Sri Lanka captain Kusal Perera bucked the previous trend and inserted the hosts – was England’s first for the first wicket since 2013.
The Ageas Bowl may be the English ground with the biggest boundaries, but you wouldn’t have known it so imperiously did Malan flick and loft. Aside from being barged to the floor by left-armer Binura Fernando in his follow through during the second over, he looked in little discomfort.
England captain Eoin Morgan (centre) with the trophy after his team won the series 3-0
But, starved of the strike for long spells, his own innings lost impetus during a Sri Lankan spell of five for 19 which included his own holing out.
At halfway, England appeared on for 200 but Bairstow’s departure to a full toss soon afterwards prompted a tactical move to take pace off the ball.
Morgan’s seamers took note. Chris Woakes, back in for the rested Mark Wood, went for just nine runs – the most economical T20 international analysis by an Englishman – while Sam Curran and Chris Jordan were not much further behind. David Willey claimed three wickets as a 3-0 clean sweep was achieved at a canter.
Sophia Dunkley will make her one-day debut for England against India on Sunday in the first meeting between the countries in 50-over cricket since Heather Knight’s team became world champions at Lord’s four years ago.