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Rain prevents England push after Sri Lanka struggle with bat again


England showed off their burgeoning depth to take command of the second ODI against Sri Lanka before rain descended on Northampton and rendered it a washout with one game left in the series.

Offspinner Charlie Dean and allrounder Alice Davidson-Richards came into the home side for a resting Mahika Gaur and injured Emma Lamb and claimed two wickets each with Lauren Filer, the 22-year-old quick who impressed on her ODI debut in the opening match of this series, also taking two as England moved within one wicket of bowling Sri Lanka out well inside their 50-over allocation for the second time in a row. Then the morning drizzle which had delayed the toss by half an hour returned much heavier, just as some stealthy fielding by Kate Cross ran out Achini Kulasuriya for the ninth wicket, and play never resumed.

After England had opted to bowl, Cross conceded nine runs first up, fours from Chamari Athapaththu – threaded fine and slammed in front of point – bookending a wide. Athapaththu peeled off two more fours through the covers in Cross’s next over, but Cross responded with the last ball – her first to right-hander Vishmi Gunaratne – who edged behind to Amy Jones, punctuating a bright start by Sri Lanka at 26 for 1.

Filer chimed in with the wicket of Harshitha Samarawickrama with a fuller ball that found a faint edge and Jones’ gloves. But Athapaththu was looking dangerous, particularly against Cross. Her four lofted over mid-on sounded like a gun going off and two balls later, she despatched a full delivery over the rope at deep midwicket.

Dean had been called up as part of England’s workload management of Gaur, the 17-year-old seamer who was Player-of-the-Match on ODI debut as England thumped Sri Lanka by seven wickets in Durham on Saturday, and she entered the action in the 10th over to devastating effect. Dean’s first three balls were dots and followed immediately by the prize wicket of Athapaththu, trapped lbw in front of middle and leg stump, ending her innings on a run-a-ball 34 and putting the tourists in trouble at 53 for 3.

Davidson-Richards, making her first England appearance since the winter tour of the Caribbean after Lamb was struck down with a back spasm, accounted for Hansima Karunaratne, who top-edged an excellent short ball to Sarah Glenn at fine leg and Sri Lanka’s slide continued.

Kavisha Dilhari was yet to score when Heather Knight spilled a chance at slip off Dean, but Dean covered her skipper’s error two balls later with a return catch that was a lot simpler than it looked as she fell to her left in her follow through. Davidson-Richards then had Anushka Sanjeewani out chopping on and Sri Lanka were six wickets down with only 79 runs on the board.

Tammy Beaumont put down a chance at point off Hasini Perera, on 19, after Filer had been brought back into the attack. But Filer and Jones combined again to remove Udeshika Prabodhani and when Cross pounced on the chance to run out Kulasuriya at the bowler’s end with a direct hit from midwicket as the batter strolled back to her crease without grounding her bat, Sri Lanka were 106 for 9 from 30.5 overs.

At that moment, the rain that had been hovering round the ground began to fall and the players left the field, only for it to set in and leave the hosts heading into Thursday’s final match in Leicester still with a 1-0 series advantage.

Davidson-Richards received her call-up on Friday and promptly scored a century for South East Stars as they upset competition leaders Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on Sunday. And while she felt that playing her first international match this year was like going back to “business as usual”, she said a return to grassroots cricket had been key to her most recent innings with the bat.

“I was out on a bike ride so I could see it coming and I was like, ‘I’ll just deal with this afterwards’,” she laughed when talking about her latest England selection after being released from the Ashes squad ahead of the June Test. “I went to some club cricket on Saturday and remembered how wonderful cricket is seeing it in its actual true form, which obviously put me in quite a nice position for Sunday. I just remembered how fun cricket is and what it’s like to play on those little club grounds. So it’s been quite fun a few days and I tried to bring that into today.

“If I put pressure on myself that’s when it tends to go a bit tits up. I think just remembering how relaxed I was when I was playing club cricket, I was watching mates I used to play with when I was 15 and stuff and just seeing people playing just for fun… seeing it played in that sort of way, on Sunday I was actually just envisioning playing on that little club ground and remembering how stress-free it was. That really helped calm my brain down and not let Alice get in the way of Alice.”

Competitions like the RHFT, Charlotte Edwards Cup and the Hundred have been crucial in developing England’s talent pool, including the likes of Gaur and Filer, and Davidson-Richards said that would be a “massive factor” for the international side.

“The best teams come from environments where there’s a lot of competition for places,” she said. “You don’t want the same people being picked every single time. You want people pushing the XI that are there and I’m doing my job if I’m making it difficult for them to pick an XI.

“Charlie Dean’s exactly the same. If you’re leaving her out then you’re probably in quite a good place aren’t you because she’s an unbelievable player. The more people that we can get up to that level, the better for the England team, then obviously we’ll just keep pushing each other on.”

Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 106 for 9 in 30.5 overs (Chamarie Athapaththu 34, Charlie  Dean 2-12, Alice Davidson-Richards 2-16, Lauren Filer 2-25) vs England Match abandoned


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