England may need to act quickly at The Oval if they are to seal the Royal London Series with a match to spare against Sri Lanka.
The hosts’ winning momentum has been stalled already by rain in Bristol, and captain Eoin Morgan is aware that another poor weather forecast may limit England’s options again today.
They were stopped in their tracks on Sunday, on 16-1 in reply to 248-9 after their seam attack had restricted Sri Lanka impressively. The tourists can therefore still win 2-1, with back-to-back successes in London and Cardiff.
Morgan knows a second consecutive no-result would mean England at least cannot lose the five-match one-day international series.
But game time is top of the captain’s agenda as he seeks sustained consolidation of improvements made since the debacle of the 2015 World Cup.
In the 15 intervening months, Morgan’s England first made a dramatic gear change in last summer’s victory at home to New Zealand – a series notable for record-breaking big totals – and have since won in Pakistan and fought hard in defeat against World Cup winners Australia and South Africa.
The Irishman was also in charge for England’s run to the final of this year’s ICC World Twenty20, and a dramatic tie at Trent Bridge to open this series was followed by a princely performance in the 10-wicket win at Edgbaston.
Morgan therefore just wants to get back in the middle and keep up the good work.
“We want to play as much cricket as we can, and I suppose (the weather) has halted a little bit of the momentum we’ve had,” he said.
“Tomorrow is about regaining that a little bit.”
England were not at their best in Nottingham last week, but were very much so three days later in Birmingham. “I think the cricket we’ve played, bar the first game, has been pretty good,” added Morgan.
“The first game was a kick up the backside more than anything – so bouncing back from that at Edgbaston, I thought, was brilliant.
“Then backing that up with our bowling performance at Bristol was also very good.”
Joe Root has begun the summer – in Tests as well as against the white ball – in modest form by his own often brilliant standards.
In the fleeting opportunity to rediscover his best in Bristol, however, England’s No 3 played with promise.
He had time only to make an unbeaten 11 before the rain swept in, but Morgan is confident Root will soon be properly in the runs again. “He looks in magnificent touch. I pair up with him in the nets, and it doesn’t make me feel any better,” he said.
“Joe is a class act who has scored a huge amount of runs.”
England are likely to name an unchanged team at The Oval, again preferring four seamers to an extra spinner.
England (possible): EJG Morgan (capt), JJ Roy, AD Hales, JE Root, JM Bairstow, JC Buttler (wkt), CR Woakes, DJ Willey, CJ Jordan, AU Rashid, LE Plunkett.
Sri Lanka (possible): A Mathews (capt), D Gunathilaka, K Perera, K Mendis, D Chandimal (wkt), U Tharanga, S Prasanna, D Shanaka, F Maharoof, S Lakmal, N Pradeep.
Umpires: B Oxenford (Aus) and R Bailey.