• Five-wicket Curran savours ‘pure elation’ as England rout Sri Lanka

    Sam Curran said he felt “pure elation” after a maiden five-wicket haul for England set up a series-clinching win over Sri Lanka at his Oval home ground on Thursday.

    The Surrey left-arm paceman took 5-48 after sparking a top-order collapse before England made easy work of chasing down a target of 242 to take the second one-day international by eight wickets.

    Victory put the 50-over world champions 2-0 up in a three-match  campaign.

    Curran’s return was not only the 23-year-old’s first five-wicket return in international cricket but also his first in 164 professional white-ball matches.

    A crowd of some 14,000 cheered on the local hero as the Oval welcomed back both England — and England spectators — for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.

    – ‘Extra buzz’ –

    “It was really special, such a good moment that I can’t really describe it,” player-of-the-match Curran told reporters.

    “It’s pure elation and enjoyment. I had a few family and friends here so I’m just happy with how it went.

    “We’ve played a lot of cricket in front of empty stadiums for obvious reasons, so to be back in front of a home crowd at the Oval gave it that extra buzz. It’s one of my favourite grounds in the world and I showed that today.”

    Curran dismissed three members of Sri Lanka’s top order in his first two overs with the new ball as the tourists slumped to 21-4.

    But Dhananjaya de Silva’s run-a-ball 91 saw them recover to 241-9, with David Willey supporting fellow left-armer Curran by taking 4-64.

    England made light of their chase, with Curran’s county colleague Jason Roy contributing 60 before captain Eoin Morgan (75 not out) and Joe Root (68 not out) sealed victory with seven overs to spare.

    Morgan’s innings was his first fifty in 16 innings in all international cricket.

    “It was really nice to see him back in the runs and showing his class,” said Curran of the World Cup-winning skipper’s timely knock.

    “The way we batted was just clinical, to make it look easy shows what this group is all about.”

    Morgan, meanwhile, indicated England would field an altered XI for Sunday’s series finale in Bristol, with Sussex all-rounder George Garton pressing for an international debut.

    “I think we’ll see more changes,” said Morgan. “There’s an eye on the Pakistan series next week and 50-over cricket is a chance to bring guys in. We’re always looking to grow and get better.”

    Sri Lanka captain Kusal Perera, Curran’s first wicket on Tuesday when lbw for a duck, was left to rue yet another batting collapse this tour.

    “When we fell to 24-4, that is very hard to get back in the game but it was good to see Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka get us back on track,” he said.

    “I was very pleased with De Silva’s innings, unfortunately he couldn’t get the hundred but there were a lot of positives out there.

    “We just can’t find any consistency at the moment and that’s what is letting us down.”


    © Agence France-Presse

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    Craig Lewis