England tour of Sri Lanka
‘The difference between the two teams was very little’
England became the only second team to inflict a whitewash on a sub-continental team in Asia in a Test series of three or matches, as they defeated Sri Lanka in the third and final Test by 42 runs on Monday.
Sri Lanka were not very impressive in ODIs following their tri-series triumph in Bangladesh, as they lost home-series against South Africa and England apart from getting knocked out in the group stage at the Asia Cup. However, their recent dismal run in Tests has been quite shocking given they had lost only one and won four of their seven Test matches until the series against England in their very own backyard.
The Asian Islanders also failed to offer a winning farewell to its spin-bowling legend Rangana Herath in the series-opener against England.
However, Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha thinks it was a close competition between the two sides and Ben Stokes is the one who made the difference with his bowling and fielding in the last two clashes.
“I think it was a very closely fought series, especially the last two games. The difference between the two teams was very little. England handled certain important situations well.
“Ben Stokes was the big difference in the last two games. When things were really going our way, he – with his brilliance with the ball, and fielding – he turned the game,” said Hathurusingha.
The difference might be very little to the Sri Lankan coach, but in reality, while England seem to have all bases covered going into the mega event which will be held on their home soil next year, there appears to be no respite for Sri Lanka, who have won only one of the nine games against the visitors across format.
Sri Lanka saw a change in limited-overs captaincy before the England series, as Angelo Mathews was sacked in less than a year after being reappointed following the team's Asia Cup exit. Frequent disciplinary violations in the recent past also disturbed them a lot. Their turmoil continued, with the entire selection panel getting changed midway through the just-concluded Test, since someone had to take the blame.
However, Sri Lanka still have a chance to correct things and end the year on a positive note in their upcoming New Zealand tour.
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