Captain Cook sits out with Morgan relishing 4th ODI challenge
England’s hopes of taking a confidence-boosting ODI series win over Sri Lanka have risen after their thrilling five-wicket victory last time out to make the score 2-1, with four matches to go.
However, Coral still rate the visitors as big outsiders at 9/2 to take the series, which is a warm-up to the World Cup that starts in February 2015, with the hosts priced heavily odds-on at 1/7.
Peter Moores’ men may have also been given a blessing in disguise, with much-maligned skipper Alastair Cook having to serve a one-match ban due to a slow over-rate in the third ODI.
Although Cook had been in solid form this series so far, it gives two people the opportunity to shine in his place, with Alex Hales likely to be promoted to opener, and Eoin Morgan the replacement captain.
Hales (7/2 to be best England batsman) should partner in-form Moeen Ali (3/1) at the top of the order, as the pair look to build on promising respective scores of 27 and 58 in the third ODI.
But it was rising star Jos Buttler who stole the show, smashing 55 off 37 balls to ensure England gained a much-needed win to half the series deficit. The Lancashire wicketkeeper-batsman is a tempting 8/1 chance to be top scorer for his country in the fourth ODI.
On Cook’s absence, coach Moores said on the Essex opener’s replacement Morgan: “Eoin Morgan will captain the next game. He’s a good player, crikey.
“He’ll have been through periods when he’s not quite hitting it [as he’d like]. But he’s the sort of player we’re very excited about.
“The key is to believe in yourself, and go out and play – and Eoin will do that, I’m sure.”
Irishman Morgan, who was out for just one run last time out, meanwhile, spoke ahead of the game. “In a seven-match series you never look to far ahead but you can see the belief in the guys’ eyes that they gained a lot of confidence from the other night,” he said.
On his own form, he added: “I think I need as much time out in the middle as possible.
“If I chew up balls in the middle period then so be it, but there has not been one particular way I’ve been getting out which creates a problem in that you can’t pinpoint what you’ve been doing wrong, so more time at the crease will help improve my form.”
For Sri Lanka, meanwhile, back the evergreen Kumar Sangakkara, who hit 63 in the third ODI, to top score for the hosts again at 10/3.