Sam Curran claimed the first five wickets in his white ball career when England won the One-Day International Series against Sri Lanka with a match played at the Oval on Thursday.
The hosts took an eight-wicket win as Joe Root and Eoin Morgan piled on a uninterrupted 140-yard line and comfortably chased a 242 goal to make it 2-0 at Sunday’s final in Bristol.
Curran was promoted to new ball duties at home and rose to 5 for the occasion with figures of 5 for 48, including three in his first nine deliveries, while the tourist dropped to a pitiful 21 for 4.
The excellent 91 by Dhananjaya De Silva averted the threat of utter humiliation as it achieved the relative respect of 241 for 9, but it was not yet close enough to limit the world champion.
Root acted exactly where he left off to make a game-79 that did not play out in Durham on Tuesday, and that facilitated an elegant 68, but Morgan’s beat added. He took 15 innings and ten months without an international half-century, but he hit the form again with 75 not out, including eight fours and a six.
England rested Chris Woakes, his four-match player on Tuesday, but found Curran more than ready to fill his shoes.
Bumpy and relatively expensive in Chester-le-Street, he was spiked on the Oval and took two wickets in his first over as an intrusive, attacking length and a whip swing, condemning Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando to lbw’s.
Pathum Nissanka lost his middle stump when Curran earned a reckless ride. When Charith Asalanka joined the exit in the seventh over and struck a bouncer from David Willey after a short center wicket, it already looked like a lost cause.
Step forward De Silva, who first showed his teammates how to use the restrictions on the field, and then applied 65 with Wanindu Hasaranga and 78 with Dasun Shanaka.
De Silva was particularly strong on the trek, riding with dedication when he sniffed a half-flight and showed admirable nod as he walked away and diverted Mark Wood’s 90km / h pace to the third-man ropes. His effort was worthy of a first century, but he shot nine too short when he pulled Willey into the safe hands of Root.
England’s midfield was meager as Tom Curran and Adil Rashid bowled 20 wickets for 93, but the youngest Curran gave his first international five-for-off as he and Willey (4 for 64) reloaded their double act. None are known for speed or bounce, but together they took six wickets from the persistent short game.
The chase was led by Jason Roy with his return from trouble in the hamstring. He dominated the Powerplay and scored 41 of England’s 65 runs as he stood tall and hit the ropes hard.
Jonny Bairstow dragged his stumps down at 29, but Roy turned the penalty around and accelerated to 60 when De Silva threw himself into the air to catch a quality catch.
It cleared the stage for Root and Morgan, who quickly jumped to work. Root picked out the gaps with minimalist steering and push pieces. There was more falling over Morgan, but he roared to life with four fours in six deliveries from Chamika Karunaratne.
He reaches his 50 on exactly one run, 13 faster than his partner, and entertains the crowd with an inverted whip before charging Hasaranga for six. Root’s job was done when Morgan dragged the winning runs through square leg, which left seven overs unused and left no doubt about the balance of power.
Sri Lanka 241 for 9 out of 50 overs (Dhananjaya de Silva 91, Shanaka 47, Sam Curran 5 for 48, Willey 4 for 64) England 244 for 2 in 43 overs (Root 68 nr, Roy 60) with eight wickets