Liam Livingstone presses case for T20 World Cup inclusion after instant impact with bat and ball

Liam Livingstone presses case for T20 World Cup inclusion after instant impact with bat and ball - Harry Trump/Getty Images
Liam Livingstone presses case for T20 World Cup inclusion after instant impact with bat and ball - Harry Trump/Getty Images

It was being claimed that England’s T20 squad is the hardest sports team in the world to break into. But nobody told Liam Livingstone, who during this three-match series against Sri Lanka has filled in for Ben Stokes as a like-for-like replacement: an immensely strong Cumbrian batsman who can bowl a few T20 overs and rises to the big occasion.

While fine fellows like Sam Billings, David Willey and Chris Woakes - even Moeen Ali of late - have waited and waited for an England T20 vacancy, Livingstone has sailed straight into the side. He can bat anywhere - as he opens for Lancashire and has batted four or five in the T20 franchises of Pakistan and South Africa - and field anywhere, with a bullet throw, and offers his own brand of leg-cum-off-spin.

Even though Jos Buttler has been ruled out of the third T20 international and three ODIs against Sri Lanka, after injuring his right calf last Wednesday, Billings seems destined to carry on waiting. Jonny Bairstow is England’s reserve T20 wicketkeeper.

Billings in this format is “a finisher” and top-notch boundary fielder; and Livingstone, by taking England home in the second international after their top-order collapse in Cardiff, appears to have finished Billings’ chance to be England’s finisher in the T20 World Cup in November.

“When the opportunity comes, you take it,” Billings said, correctly, but it did not quite work out. He tried a cross-bat shot against a spinner when the ball was skidding on after rain and was bowled for 24. England’s actual finishers were Livingstone and another Sam, not Billings but Curran, who has been the man for a crisis ever since he was a boy.

Tough, but that is the way it is in England’s T20 world-class squad. It was only the fourth innings of any kind that Billings has had this summer, and his fifth since January. He has spent so much time in various England squads without being in the final eleven - he was reserve keeper to James Bracey during the Tests against New Zealand - and for the time being he will have to content himself with the role of 50-over finisher which he claimed last summer.

England could almost name their squad now for the T20 World Cup. Chris Woakes has played enough IPL to be making a late run, and is so dependable as an opening bowler and with his wide yorkers at the death, that another good game or two should seal his place in the squad, if not the starting eleven.

Dawid Malan has been added to England’s ODI squad against Sri Lanka, in place of Buttler, and could well be added to England’s Test team too against India, but his days as England’s T20 No 3 may be numbered. The sedate starts have no longer been followed by coruscating hitting.

England’s World Cup batting line-up looks like being Jason Roy, Buttler, Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, Stokes and Livingstone with Sam Curran, versatility itself, at No 7.

With Adil Rashid inked as the chief spinner, that leaves three pace bowlers in most of the World Cup games, unless the pitch turns so much that Moeen supplements Rashid and Livingstone.

Possible T20 World Cup starting XI: Roy, Buttler (wkt), Bairstow, Morgan, Stokes, Livingstone, S Curran, Jordan, Rashid, Archer, Wood.

The four others in the squad of 15: Malan, Moeen, and two out of Tom Curran, Topley, Willey and Woakes.

Livingstone steadies England with newfound maturity after top-order fragility returns

By Scyld Berry

England’s T20 series had been going less than 27 hours before they won it, such is their efficiency in the shortest format. England followed up their victory by eight wickets in the first international with a more precarious one by five wickets, leaving a dead-rubber game for Saturday afternoon in Southampton.

It made England’s eighth victory out of eight in T20 internationals at Sophia Gardens, and made their reputation all the more formidable. But this is a bilateral series. It has been in the knockout matches of a global competition that England have tensed up, and something of that fragility was evident here when they collapsed to 36 for four wickets.

Happily for England, Lancashire’s batting all-rounder Liam Livingstone seized this occasion to make a statement of his newfound maturity. After a shower, when England were 69 for four, had reduced England’s target to 103 off 18 overs - in other words 34 off their last six - Livingstone and Sam Billings put together a match-winning stand on an evening of otherwise fragile batting.

Only the need to reduce carbon emissions can account for the fact that steam did not come out of the ears of Sri Lanka’s histrionic coach, Mickey Arthur, when they batted. Sri Lanka set an embarrassing record by becoming the first country that could not score a single boundary against England in the six-over powerplay. The Sri Lankan batsmen are out of contract, out of season, and out of sync.

The blemish on England’s performance was that they themselves lost too many early wickets, when the floodlights were taking effect: their own powerplay was no more profitable than Sri Lanka’s.

But this opened up the opportunity for Livingstone to demonstrate his maturity: he had tried too hard to impress on his England debut four years ago but at 27, in his sixth international, he made a case to retain his place when Ben Stokes returns, conceivably at No 3, firstly by sensibly keeping England ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis target with twos and singles when rain threatened.

Sam Curran of England runs out Danushka Gunathilaka  - Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Sam Curran of England runs out Danushka Gunathilaka - Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Sri Lanka had naively chosen to bat first in the first international, and did the same again, only worse. In the six-over powerplay of the first game the tourists had stumbled to 39 for two wickets, while in the second they flopped to 26 for two - without a four let alone a six. They soon added another record, by making the lowest T20 total against England off a full 20 overs.

In the first game Chris Woakes and Sam Curran had dominated Sri Lanka’s powerplay with their two overs apiece. For the second, Woakes was rested - having bowled three overs in his only England game this year - and England opened with two left-armers, a third in Reece Topley being injured.

Here was another example of England’s white-ball diversification: in pre-Morgan days, when England’s white-ball cricket was antediluvian, their bowling attack used to be all right-arm pace and offspin.

England v Sri Lanka - Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Britain  - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
England v Sri Lanka - Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Britain - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Restored to this England side after two years, David Willey bowled three overs in the powerplay for only 11 runs. Curran, in his two overs, took both wickets, once when bouncing out Avishka Fernando - a naive hook to deep square - and the second with a run-out by hitting the stumps right-footed

England’s use of spin is diversifying too. Livingstone, by conceding only ten runs from the seventh and ninth overs combined, allowed Morgan to hold Adil Rashid back to control the second half of Sri Lanka’s innings.

One of Rashid’s dismissals, when the batsman thrashed at thin air, summed up their batting. Sri Lanka managed their first boundary in the eighth over, and only four fours and two sixes in all.

Being too cavalier at dusk, England’s powerplay was no better than Sri Lanka’s: 31 for three compared to 26 for two. Jos Buttler, who had suffered a calf strain in the opening game, was missed when Jonny Bairstow was bowled in a big drive. Dawid Malan walked across a fast and straight one, Morgan himself cut to point.

Malan had earlier dropped a catch - not an error condoned under Morgan - so here he was offering another opportunity to Livingstone. At 36 for four after Jason Roy had driven to long-on in the first over of spin, England needed that cohesion which Livingstone supplied initially with Billings, then Curran, in giving his team their 2-0 lead.

Second T20 - as it happened

09:16 PM

ENGLAND win by five wickets

With 11 balls to spare. Good 'learnings' as the coaching fraternity would say for England, taking note of Willey's performance with the ball, the partnership between Livingstone and Billings and the sensible way they managed the chase and the DLS rate in the rain, Livingstone's sang-froid and Curran's indispensability. Not very good from the top order at all but, all together now, 'that's the way we play'.

09:12 PM

ENG win by five wickets DLS

OVER 16.1: ENG 108/5 (Curran 16 Livingstone 29)

Smacks the first ball of Danjanaya's over over long on for a towering six.

09:11 PM

OVER 16: ENG 102/5 (Curran 10 Livingstone 29) Target 103 off 18 overs DLS

Sam Curran hammers Udana for four off the back foot through cover then flicks a single into the onside. Livingstone pushes a single to midwicket and Curran turns down the second. Curran taps the low full toss down the ground for a single, Livingstone opens his right wrist to smear one down to third man and Curran takes them within one run with a short-arm pull to midwicket for a single.

09:08 PM

OVER 15: ENG 93/5 (Curran 3 Livingstone 27) Target 103 off 18 overs DLS

Four leg-byes off Hasaranga the ball after Billings has a life when he mows across the line at the top-spinner and the ball shivers the timbers. The leg-byes are also the result of a missed chance, a stumping off a googly that foxed the keeper too. Enter Sam Curran when the third card of the three-card trick does for Billings. The left-hander works two through midwicket, should have been only a single but there was a fumble in the field. Curran reduces the target to 10 off 18 with another calmly flicked single into the onside.

Hasaranga ends with 4-0-20-2.

09:05 PM


Billings b Hasaranga 24 Had him on toast with three deliveries, the top-spinner whistled past off-stump, the googly should have earned a stumping and the leg-break knocks back off-stump via a bottom edge. FOW 90/5

09:02 PM

OVER 14: ENG 86/4 (Billings 24 Livingstone 27) Target 103 off 18 overs DLS

Chameera has an over left, starting with one for 17 off his previous three. Livingstone tucks a single off his hip and Billings shows his hand-speed once more next ball with a square cut for four, scythed past point off the front foot. Billings uses the bounce when Chameera drops short to drag a single through midwicket, rolling his wrists on the fetch and pull.

Livingstone, without a boundary so far, corrects that with a ramp for six, flipping it from outside off over his shoulder and over fine leg.

08:57 PM

OVER 13: ENG 74/4 (Billings 19 Livingstone 20) (Target 103 off 18 overs DLS)

Hasaranga does his best with the damp ball. Livingstone pushes a single down to long-on as does Billings. Livingtsone, all bottom hand, shovels another down to long on before Billings whisks two through cover with electric wrists.

08:54 PM

England's revised target 34 off 36 balls

Duckworth-Lewis-Stern has struck.

08:36 PM

The covers are coming off

The match will restart at 9.55 and has to finish by 10.20.

08:35 PM

Look what's happening at Edgbaston

Could have repercussions on the size of crowds at forthcoming fixtures:

08:32 PM

Still raining

But the umpires are out in the middle.

08:25 PM

Rain stops play: ENG 69/4 (Billings 16 Livingstone 18)

The rain is heavier thane ever tonight and the square has been covered in ground sheets, too, joining the hover cover on the pitch.

08:19 PM

OVER 12: ENG 69/4 (Billings 16 Livingstone 18)

Udana continues, Livingstone waits for it and whips it off middle stump behind square for two, then strokes two off his pads, taking the power off to leave it short of midwicket and give them time to run two.

Very sharp running earns Livingstone a single to mid-off. Billings hangs deep in the crease to open the face and run a single to the point sweeper.

The umpires are growing increasingly concerned about the rain ... and now they're taking the players off.

ENG need 43 off 48 balls. The DLS par is 65 so England are ahead.

08:14 PM

OVER 11: ENG 62/4 (Billings 15 Livingstone 12)

Dananjaya comes into the attack - right-arm wrist spin as the rain gets heavier. The batsmen cleverly milk five singles through the gaps in the field and Billings' busy running turns one into two when he comes down the track to work it through the onside.

08:09 PM

OVER 10: ENG 55/4 (Billings 11 Livingstone 9)

Perera turns back to Binura Fernando, knowing he needs wickets. He starts with couple of dot balls, putting the brakes back on but after a wide the two right-handers manipulate the ball around for four singles.

08:04 PM

OVER 9: ENG 50/4 (Billings 9 Livingstone 7)

This is England's lowest powerplay score for six years.

Hasaranga barrels in with his jaunty run-up and low arm. Livingstone lives dangerously by cutting a googly he didn't read that rushed on and he bottom-edged it into his boot. They poke and dab a single apiece then Livingstone does successfully cut a leg-break for three.

England are now ahead on DLS. But the rain has eased anyway.

08:00 PM

OVER 8: ENG 44/4 (Billings 7 Livingstone 3)

Udana is a bit quicker than a dobber but not quick enough to bounce Billings who pulls the short ball for four, rolling his wrists on it and dragging it through midwicket. Billings bottom-edges a pull for one more and Livingstone glides a single off an open face down to third man.

07:57 PM

OVER 7: ENG 37/4 (Billings 2 Livingstone 1)

Hasaranga, SL's best bowler last night, a skiddy, short leg-spinner who bowls it quickly into the pitch, comes on. Roy reverse sweeps him for four then chips a drive straight to Shanaka who gobbles up the chance. It was the toppie and raced on to Roy. Livingstone gets off the mark by tapping the googly for a single down to Shanaka.

07:53 PM


Roy c Shanaka b Hasaranga 17 Cloths the slog straight down long-on's throat. FOW 36/4

07:52 PM

OVER 6: ENG 31/3 (Roy 12 Billings 1)

A little drizzle in the air, a fine start by the opening bowlers and the spinner golden arms a wicket.

Jonny Bairstow castled - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers
Jonny Bairstow castled - Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Billings replaces the captain and almost drags one on to the stumps as he shapes to cut but gets off the mark with the tightest of singles as he plays tip and run to point.

07:48 PM


Morgan c Hasaringa b Udana 11 The left arm medium pacer tempts Morgan outside off-stump and slaps it straight to point. Takes a wicket with the juiciest of pies. FOW 30/3

07:46 PM

OVER 5: ENG 29/2 (Roy 12 Morgan 11)

Perera wisely sticks with Chameera but Roy chassés towards him once more and plays a front-foot cut for four, carving it in front of point. He follows that with the cutest of late cuts, dabbing two down to third man. As Chameera cranks it up to 92.3mph Roy punches an on-drive that was stopped by Perera with a headlong dive at mid-on. Only one run comes when it warranted, for aesthetic allure at least, quadruple that.

Chameera tries the yorker to Morgan but it doesn't land and the England captain thumps it for four through cover.

07:40 PM

OVER 4: ENG 17/2 (Roy 5 Morgan 7)

Binura Fernando continues and carries on in the same vein - quick, accurate and using the swing effectively. After two dot balls Roy walks down and swats a pull for a single to the cow corner sweeper. Morgan punches two off the back foot through cover - risky as the left-armer is whanging it away from the left-hander and should really have another slip in. Binura goes for length next and Morgan doesn't move his feet but murders a drive through cover, all wrists and sweet timing, for four.

07:35 PM

OVER 3: ENG 10/2 (Roy 4 Morgan 1)

Terrific bowling from Chameera who set Malan up with short balls then trapped him on the crease. Morgan squirts a single off the toe of the bat, Roy slaps a single with an open face through point.

07:33 PM


Malan lbw b Chameera 4 Excellent use of their review. Three reds, hitting leg stump 12 inches up. FOW 8/2

07:32 PM

OVER 2.3: ENG 8/1 (Roy 3 Malan 4)

This pitch is Janus-faced. Chameera gets one to fly off a length, leaping over Roy's chest as he swung at it and Dickwella takes it over his head. Roy walks across his stumps to flick a leg-glance for a single. Malan leaves a legside one alone and the umpire calls wide.

Chameera pins Malan with the inswinger to the left-hander and SL review ...

07:28 PM

OVER 2: ENG 6/1 (Roy 2 Malan 4)

Binura, the left-armer, shares the new ball and is nice and sharp, too. He is swinging the ball prodigiously and bags Bairstow, Enter Malan who leaves the first ball, plays and misses the next which kept low but then steers a shorter ball over gully for four with an uppercut.

07:24 PM


Bairstow b Binura 0 Rapid inswinger through the gate, knocks back middle peg as Bairstow had a thrash at it. FOW 1/1

07:23 PM

OVER 1: ENG 1/0 (Roy 1 Bairstow 0)

Chameera opens the bowling - he's a decent prospect, lean, whippy and sharp. The first ball is a snorter, climbing away from Roy's edge as he fiddles after it. He widens his eyes to try to get more accustomed to the light as if he didn't see it until late. Swing for Chameera too, none for England. Roy chases the outswinger, playing and missing, then takes a stride towards the bowler who spears the ball into his feet and he drags a single towards midwicket.

Good start from Chameera, the ball ramps past the shoulder of Bairstow's bat and the last ball whistles past off-stump too as the right-hander plays and misses.

07:10 PM

England need 112 to win the series

A huge gulf in experience, craft and class between the two sides. 111 is the lowest score against England in a completed T20 innings.

07:08 PM

OVER 20: SL 111/7 (Danjanaya 2 Udana 19)

Chris Jordan takes the last over and Udana picks the slower ball and thumps it over mid-off for four. Had to wait for it. The right-hander swipes two off the splice to long on then absolutely climbs into a drive and clobbers it back over the bowler's head and into the Taff for six. It shows you that Sri Lanka have the talent but the strategy is all wrong.

They need a replacement ball which eats up more time. Should take 75 minutes per innings, now it takes 100. Jordan comes back with a rapid bouncer, Udana tries to uppercut but misses it. Udana hacks two off the last ball with a pull off the splice. Jordan called for it but couldn't get there. Roy was closer but Jordan insisted it was his.

Sri Lanka finish on Nelson and Jordan ends with 4-0-31-1.

07:02 PM

OVER 19: SL 97/7 (Danjanaya 2 Udana 5)

Willey comes back for his final over and serves up a couple of tight wides - one on height, another across the left-handed Dananjaya who gets away with a single squeezed past point. Udana is tempted into a pull but hadn't realised it was a slower ball and he he completes his stroke before the ball arrives. He wears it on the pads. That was the 50th dot ball of the innings - but Sri Lanka work three singles off the final three deliveries to give the scoreboard operator some exercise.

Willey's figures are 4-0-17-0.

06:56 PM

OVER 18: SL 90/7 (Danjanaya 0 Udana 2)

Given where these two sides are on their developmental cycles, one at their peak (for the T20 World Cup scheduled for last year) the other building towards the next one, this is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel for England. Mickey Arthur has improved every team he's coached but he has a hell of a job on his hands in white ball cricket with this SL side.

Jordan bamboozles the batsmen with his variations - slower one, yorker, bouncer. A single, a wide (on height) and a wicket.

06:52 PM


Shanaka c Willey b Jordan 8 Full and he couldn't get under it. It was a slower ball and as he thrashed at it he lost his grip and spooned it to long-on because he didn't pick that it was the slower one. FOW 90/7

06:49 PM

OVER 17: SL 88/6 (Shanaka 8 Udana 1)

Very astute from Rashid to force them back, back, back and then bowl the tempter. He finishes with 4-0-24-2.

06:46 PM


Hasaranga st Bairstow b Rashid 3 Brilliant - kept him on the back foot for three deliveries, tossed one up and invited him to come downand strike him over the top, did him in the flight and the leg-break turned away from the edge. Smart take by Bairstow above his heart to gather and stump him by two yards. FOW 85/6

06:45 PM

OVER 16: SL 84/5 (Shanaka 6 Hasaranga 2)

Mark Wood will bowl out and, as ever, gives it his all, peaking above 93mph, blistering pace into the right-handers' ribs. Three singles as they back away and work it into the onside. Wood finishes with 4-0-18-2.

Simply too hot to handle for this transitional SL side.

06:42 PM

OVER 15: SL 81/5 (Shanaka 4 Hasaranga 1)

Shanaka gets off the mark with a single off a quick googly, bottom edging a pull for a single, Hasaranga does the same to a ball turning into the right-hander and Shanaka works two more into the legside behind square.

England's Jonny Bairstow takes a catch to dismiss Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis off the bowling of England's Mark Wood - AP Photo/Alastair Grant
England's Jonny Bairstow takes a catch to dismiss Sri Lanka's Kusal Mendis off the bowling of England's Mark Wood - AP Photo/Alastair Grant

06:37 PM

OVER 14: SL 76/5 (Shanaka 0 Hasaranga 0)

Mendis began by retreating to square leg and pulling a Wood torpedo for four through long on. Two wickets follow then he almost nails the perfect hat-trick ball, a yorker to Hasaranga, veering in towards off stump. The new batsman plays and misses and it whistles past the timbers.

06:34 PM


Dickwella c Morgan b Wood 3 Two in two and Wood's on a hat-trick. Stepped away and tried to flick it round the corner but it was too quick and close and he pops it off a leading edge to Morgan at cover. FOW 76/5

06:31 PM


Mendis c Bairstow b Wood 39 Slogs a back of a length ball, aiming to flip it over deep backward square for six but top edges it and sends a steepling chance to the moon and back. Bairstow makes 20m and still has to dive to catch it at full stretch. Great catch. FOW 76/4

06:31 PM

OVER 13: SL 72/3 (Mendis 35 Dickwella 3)

Rashid and the captain bag the Sri Lanka captain but next ball Morgan fails to gather Billings' throw cleanly at the non-striker's. Had he done so he would have run Mendis out as chatterbox Dickwella stole a second.

06:26 PM


Kusal Perera c Morgan b Rashid 21 The captain's go-to bowler delivers again. Perera goes for the switch hit sweep and toes it straight to cover. Rashid did him with the quicker one. FOW 68/3

06:26 PM

OVER 12: SL 65/2 (Perera 21 Mendis 31)

Another bowling change - Jordan returns and Mendis, after being diddled by the slower ball, heaving and missing, gyroscopes the next for six over deep fine leg. Big hit, into the top tier. His bat started at seven o' clock and ended up at one o'clock. Mendis goes for it again but doesn't connect properly and walks a single to fine leg.

Perera, the left-hander, takes on the pull , splices it to deep fine leg but Malan, who seemed to be running in treacle, got there eventually but it burst through his hands as he dived for the catch. They run two.

06:21 PM

OVER 11: SL 55/2 (Perera 18 Mendis 24)

And it's Rashid's turn to bowl. Each batsman takes a single into the legside then Mendis swivel-pulls a single off a big leg-break. Perera gleans two when he tries to ramp it over his shoulder but skies it off a thick edge over Bairstow for two. A single and another two end the over, every run through the onside.

06:18 PM

OVER 10: SL 47/2 (Perera 14 Mendis 20)

Wood is bowling like the wind, 92, 93 and 94mph. Mendis knows all he has to do is get a bat on it to get four behind square on the off-side but he can't lay bat on it. Three dot balls start the over then Mendis glides a single to third man. Perera flicks a single off his hip and Mendis pinches the strike by walking across his stumps bravely and panning a pull fine ... he would have expected four but it went straight to Rashid and they only run a single.

06:14 PM

OVER 9: SL 44/2 (Perera 13 Mendis 18)

Good shot from Mendis, pure Viv Richards as he keeps his eyes on the flighted leg-spinner steps away to leg and lofts a drive over cover for four. Mendis then pushes a skiddy one through point for two off an open face and leg-glances a single. The third umpire is asked to check whether Perera's defensive into the ground kicked up off his boot and into Bairstow's gloves but it was definitely turf not leather and Livingstone's polite inquiry takes seconds to clear up.

06:10 PM

OVER 8: SL 37/2 (Perera 13 Mendis 11)

Mark Wood replaces Willey and starts at 88mph. Perera works a single off his ribs. Mendis give sit the kitchen sink and thick edges a single to third man and, two balls later, clocks the first boundary with another choppy cut that beats Malan this time in the same fielding position. Wood cranks it up to 93mph and squares Mendis up as the ball ramps outside off and all but kisses the edge.

06:06 PM

OVER 7: SL 29/2 (Perera 12 Mendis 5)

Liam Livingstone, England's Bertie Bassett of spin, off-spinner and leg-spinner, comes into the attack. Perera drills a single through cover, Mendis pats one off his hip, Perera swat-cuts a skiddy off-break for a single. Time for a leg-break to the right-handed Mendis who can't beat the bowler with a drive nor, next ball, short midwicket with a bottom-edged pull.

That was the first time England have got through a bowling powerplay without conceding a boundary and the first time Sri Lanka have not hit one.

England's Liam Livingstone catching the ball to take the wicket of Sri Lanka's Avishka Fernando - GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images
England's Liam Livingstone catching the ball to take the wicket of Sri Lanka's Avishka Fernando - GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

06:01 PM

OVER 6: SL 26/2 (Perera 10 Mendis 4)

Chris Jordan is the first change and comes round the wicket to the left-handed captain. He's up at 85mph in pace and Perera whips a single round the corner, Mendis, given the hurry-up, jab-pulls a single to the midwicket boundary sweeper. Perera decides to go downtown, doesn't quite middle it and settles for two because Willey pulls it back from the rope.

The powerplay ends without a single boundary. Bairstow appealed for a feather when Mendis tried to hook the last ball but no one supported him and he trotted up the other end.

05:57 PM

OVER 5: SL 21/2 (Perera 6 Mendis 3)

David Willey will bowl a third over and starts with a pair of dot balls. Mendis defends the first then tries to squeeze a drive past mid-off but you can't beat Chris Jordan unless you time the pants off it, which Kusal Mendis hasn't done so far. He finally breaches the ring with a cover drive for two but Willey comes back with a jaffa that climbs past the shoulder of Mendis's bat as he tried to work it into the legside. Five dot balls in all in the over - 3-0-11-0.

05:52 PM

OVER 4: SL 19/2 (Perera 6 Mendis 1)

Sam Curran is the most deceptive of bowlers. Looking at him objectively one would think the lack of height and pace would make him a fourth seamer at best but he is so skilful, feisty and adept at cutters and ego-testers that he is undroppable. He just keeps taking top-order wickets.

05:50 PM


Avishka c Livingstone b Curran 6 Takes on the bouncer, pulls it to the longest boundary, Livingstone strides in from deep square leg and takes a comfortable catch. FOW (18/2)

05:47 PM

OVER 3: SL 15/1 (Avishka 4 Perera 4)

Willey continues, slanting it across the right-hander but bowling wicket-to-wicket against the left-handed captain.. Perera opens his right wrist to dab a single through point, Avishka creams a cover drive that would have gone for four but for Jordan's outstanding diving parry which saves two. The opener chips a single through gully and then Willey delivers a wide then strikes Perera on the knee roll and reviews but it was umpire's call on height. It did pitch in line, which was a surprise. Not out.

05:42 PM

OVER 2: SL 9/1 (Avishka 1 Perera 3)

All left-arm with the new ball - Curran shares opening bowling duties. Willey had three slips, Curran one which means his length will be shorter, one assumes. Bairstow is keeping wicket. Gunathilaka pushes the first ball for a single to mid-off and hares a single. That's their plan this evening and proves his undoing as non-striker. Kusal Perera whips two off his pads and drags a pull to midwicket fpr a single.

05:38 PM


Gunathilaka run out 3 Never a run on in a million years. Avishka dropped the ball maybe three yards up the pitch with a backward defensive. Gunathilaka called him through but Curran outsprinted him up the pitch and side-footed the ball into middle and leg. Kamikaze. FOW 6/1

05:36 PM

OVER 1: SL 5/0 (Gunathilaka 2 Avishka 1)

Willey starts by angling it across the left-hander from over the wicket, a touch too much on this humid evening, and it clips the left-hander's pads and they run two leg-byes. Runs off the bat for Gunathilaka after his 19 yesterday, tucking a single off his hip.

Avishka made a four-ball duck yesterday and fell to a left-arm over bowler in Sam Curran. He lets two go as they climb outside off-stump, tempted but manages to resist fishing after them. He gets off the mark for the series with a single off his ankles and Gunathilaka ends the over by farming the strike with a tip and run to mid-off.

05:29 PM

Out come the teams

Danushka Gunathilaka and Avishka Fernando will open the batting, David Willey the bowling.

05:17 PM

Eoin Morgan speaks

"We like chasing, if we play well it suits us. Jos picked up a calf strain yesterday, and Chris Woakes can't play two days in a row, so Dave Willey takes the new ball. The level of intensity last night was as good as it's been for a while, so hopefully we can use that confidence and momentum."

05:16 PM

The team sheet has Bairstow keeping

England team sheet

05:10 PM

Two changes each

England Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (capt), Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood.

Sri Lanka Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera (capt), Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Akila Dhananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando.

* The BBC has Jonny Bairstow keeping wicket but most other outlets have Sam Billings in the gloves (which makes little sense to me).

05:05 PM

Sri Lanka have won the toss

And will bat.

Two changes for England - Sam Billings replaces Jos Buttler, who has a 'niggle' and Dave Willey for Chris Woakes. No Moeen, BAH!

04:59 PM

Reports of rain at lunchtime in Cardiff

But it's set fair for the evening. The BBC, which is broadcasting this match after last year's return to live TV coverage with the second England v Australia T20, will be chuffed. Isa Guha will begin on the Attenborough Project at 6pm.

Cardiff weather forecast - Met Office
Cardiff weather forecast - Met Office

04:26 PM

Good evening

And welcome to live coverage of the second T20 international between England and Sri Lanka. It's rare that teams play matches on successive days, even in franchise/domestic leagues and it seems odd that the ECB has shoehorned one into Thursday night when they could have had a Friday night Euro-free fixture on Friday night by the Taff. But who are we to complain. Always good to have a match on or we might be forced to do something else.

Eoin Morgan, after Jos Buttler's brilliance in Wednesday's comprehensive eight-wicket victory with 17 balls to spare, promised changes in tonight's line-up which, hopefully, will mean a recall at least for Moeen Ali even if Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, Tom Curran and Dave Willey are made to wait until Saturday for a game.

Adil Rashid and Wanindu Hasaranga, the leg-spinners, were terrific last night on the series' only fresh pitch and they should be similarly effective on one that now has some wear on it tonight. Sri Lanka, who won their first three T20is against England in this country are trying to rebuild quickly for the T20 World Cup in October but we should not forget their pedigree, they have played in three of the six finals, winning one and although the hair of their second golden generation has turned silver, they still produce resourceful, savvy cricketers, particularly in Asia, who will not be blown away in India in the autumn.

As for England, there are still one or two issues to address. It would have been good to see George Garton in this format rather than the 50-over squad. England need a genuine left-arm quick to challenge Willey and Sam Curran should the ball not swing consistently throughout the tournament. It would be useful to see Liam Livingstone have a bat and see where he stands vis a vis Billings as the reserve batsman once Ben Stokes is fit and also, if Joe Root has definitely (and foolishly) been ruled out by the selectors despite scoring most runs in 2016 (249 @ 50 and a strike rate of 147), it would be interesting to see him have a go at No3 in case Dawid Malan's slow starts in India carry on and rule him out of the side later in the competition.