England were denied a 6-0 tour of Sri Lanka by an all-powerful downpour in Bristol, but not before Tom Curran had the chance to find form against obliging opponents.
Having already won all three Twenty20s, Eoin Morgan’s men were set to replicate the score in a one-day Royal London streak that barely threatened to reach the required level of competitiveness.
They did all they could, knocking out complicit opposition for 166 as Curran claimed four for 35, but the intervention of heavy and relentless rain meant a direct chase could never get started.
It was an important return to form for the Surrey man, who had gone without a wicket in his last five games in both white ball formats, prompting questions about his place in a full-strength squad. In retaliation, the second best figures of his career in England were a good start.
Given the one-sided nature of previous games, the crowd in Bristol arrived expecting three things from England: new faces on the roster, big points after the first hitter and, of course. , a home victory.
In the end, they don’t fit any of the three. There was no start for George Garton, no callbacks for Liam Dawson, Liam Livingstone or Tom Banton, no change from Eoin Morgan’s familiar method of “winning throw, throw first” and, finally. , No result.
England had previously limited Sri Lanka to 185 and 241 and they were ready to incite another higher order barrel-scraping effort. Once again, the new pitchers did the job in spades, with Chris Woakes and David Willey sharing the wickets as they hit 45 for four on the power play.
Woakes, replacing Mark Wood in the only change to the XI, who was straight back in the groove as captain Kusal Perera trained his own strains in the third round. On the other end, Willey received the new ball in front of Sam Curran, despite carrying five wickets from the latter to the Kia Oval.
He started off carelessly, conceding 17 in his first two overs, but tightened impressively to dismiss Avishka Fernando lbw and Pathum Nissanka via a flashy edge. Faced with an equally precarious position two days ago, Dhananjaya De Silva produced a hit gem, reaching 91 to make a things contest.
There would be no recovery, with the all-rounder managing a single limit in protest before hitting Woakes’ bouncer straight in the thin leg.
With the match fading noticeably like a contest, there was already a whiff of anti-climax, but with his place under scrutiny, the stakes were real for Tom Curran.
He had failed to claim a scalp in 34 overs over three ODIs and two T20s, but was offered a first gift from Oshada Fernando, whose weak and wobbly drive came full circle midway through to end the sterile race. Better yet, he made two when Wanindu Hasaranga’s weakness for a miss shot emerged.
After a short rest, during which Sri Lanka was again slowed down by Woakes’ precision, he returned to the attack and doubled his shot by hammering the channel on the outside.
Calling on Chamika Karunaratne and Binura Fernando to make a mistake, Jonny Bairstow was present when the two did. The first of his takes was one for scrapbooking, tumbling to the right to gather together with a glove.
A five-wicket transport to match the one taken by brother Sam in the previous game seemed to have beckoned, but his final two overs after a rain delay only yielded a few close calls and four unfortunate knockdowns.
Dasun Shanaka spared his team an even quicker demise, clubbing Adil Rashid for two sixes and making the most of some eccentric field goals to reach 48 not eliminated.
But England closed things off in 42nd place all the same, with Bairstow crushing Dushmantha Chameera and Asitha Fernando escaping in a burlesque way.
The rain meant it was the last possible action, with Sri Lanka saving themselves another inevitable defeat.