England’s white ball juggernaut cranked into life with a straightforward crushing of Sri Lanka in the first T20 of the summer.
There might only have been 3,000 fans allowed into Sophia Gardens for their first taste of international cricket here in more than two years, but they were treated to a typically brutal takedown of a target courtesy of Jos Buttler and Jason Roy.
Despite their post IPL quarantine and breaks at home with family, there was no sign of any rustiness in the way the pair set about their business with bats in hand.
The opening duo took the biggest bite out of the meagre 130-run target by putting on 80 in nine overs before the Surrey whacker was brilliantly caught at mid-off for 36.
Buttler hardly noticed though as he then deposited the ball into the River Taff on his way to 68 not out in the eight wicket win.
With Adil Rashid picking up 2-17 from his four overs with the ball, the men England will be learning on heaviest to try and win the T20 World Cup in October are showing just why that is the case.
Although this wasn’t exactly the stiffest of challenges. Sri Lanka are ranked eighth in the world in T20 cricket, so a visit to the number one ranked side’s back yard was always likely to be a mismatch and so it proved.
The Lankans are still searching for the players to replace the world class heroes who once won the World T20 in 2014, and this tour could be a miserable experience as they find out just how far away they are from the very best.
England are the most dominant white ball team in the world and a three-nil clean sweep would surprise no-one, even though they are without both Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes.
The strength in depth England have in this kind of cricket remains a badge of honour, so replacing these two proven performers was Chris Woakes in his first T20 international since 2015 and Liam Livingstone, another Cumbrian all rounder who makes the game look alarmingly easy.
Woakes’ 0-14 and Livingstone’s 1-9 across the five overs they bowled between them gave skipper Eoin Morgan the control he wanted while some of his more familiar T20 bowlers picked up the wickets in an anaemic innings.
It took until the 11th over for Sri Lanka to pick up their first six, while the seven boundaries they hit in total was surpassed by Buttler and Roy inside the six over powerplay.
Dasun Shanaka at least gave the target something of a lift with 50 exactly, while skipper Kusal Mendis made 30, but it was never going to be enough to trouble England.
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