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England playing for pride in last Sri Lanka ODI after Pallekele loss

England return to Colombo to contest the seventh and final One Day International cricket contest against a Sri Lanka team who are full of confidence.

After Kumar Sangakkara scored his 20th ODI century, his third against England, the result in Pallekele was almost a foregone conclusion. The toursits were bowled out for 202, which gave Sri Lanka a 4-2 lead with one to play. However, this is anything but a dead rubber.

With the World Cup squad set to be announced, players will want to impress and make a major contribution. Chief among those will be Eoin Morgan.

Republic of Ireland-born Morgan hasn’t been in the best of form, which wasn’t helped after he received a magic delivery first ball from Sachithra Senanayake. Morgan scored a quick fire 62 from 47 balls during the fourth ODI, but has since struggled for any fluency with his stylish and inventive batting.

Although he’s a near certainty for the World Cup, the Middlesex man will want to score big and remind the selectors of his ability. Coral have Morgan at 6/1 to top score for England in the final ODI.

Once again, the form of Alastair Cook is a major issue. The England Captain clearly looked distracted on the field and this resulted in an inexcusable and costly drop of Sangakkara when he was on just 41.

When England needed Cook to dig in and make the big score he is more than capable of producing, he walked across his stumps to Senanayake and was given out LBW for 1. The manner of Cook’s acceptance of the decision shows his lack of confidence.

Sir Ian Botham believes Cook’s place at the World Cup is anything but certain, despite constant reassurances from selectors. “At the moment there is just no way that you could play Alastair Cook at the World Cup,” said Botham. “He’s just all at sea.”

The skipper has now racked up just 499 runs in his last 21 ODIs, and will be looking for a huge score on Tuesday, which Coral have backed him at 4/1 to achieve by being best England batsman.

It’s not just the batsmen that have found conditions difficult, though. Chris Jordan has struggled for rhythm since the India Test series last summer, and Chris Woakes looked like his fantastic six-wicket haul during the 5th ODI has drained him.

One bowler who will be looking to use the current conditions is off spinner James Tredwell. The 32-year-old won’t receive spin friendly conditions in Australia or New Zealand, and will therefore be looking to take wickets in Colombo.

The Kent man used all his experience to bowl economically in Pallekele with figures of 1-37 from his 10 overs, which is more impressive when considering the Sri Lankan players are spin experts.

Tredwell will take heart in that he is most likely going to the World Cup, but won’t rest on his laurels and will want to secure his place with a solid performance in Colombo. Back Tredwell with Coral at 10/3 to have Sri Lanka in a spin at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground by being best bowler for the tourists.

England have shown glimpses of brilliance during this series, but have once again lost a limited overs series. Coach Peter Moores will be hoping everything clicks in Colombo and they can head to Australia having saved some face and continue their World Cup preparations. England are 11/8 to beat Sri Lanka and end the series on a high note.