Liam Plunkett grabbed two wickets for 49 against Sri Lanka in 3rd ODI © Getty Images
Liam Plunkett grabbed two wickets for 49 against Sri Lanka in 3rd ODI © Getty Images

Rain may have cut short Sunday’s 3rd ODI between England and Sri Lanka but for Liam Plunkett there was the satisfaction of taking his 50th wicket at this level — more than a decade after his first. England were left 1-0 up with two to play after rain ensured a no result in Bristol ahead of Wednesday’s day/night clash at The Oval in south London. Earlier fast bowler Plunkett made early inroads on his way to three for 46 as Sri Lanka were held to a total of 248 for nine. Three Sri Lanka batsmen — Dinesh Chandimal (62), captain Angelo Mathews (56) and Kusal Mendis (53) — all made fifties but holed out. Full Cricket Scorecard: England vs Sri Lanka 2016, 3rd ODI at Bristol

But it was opener Kusal Perera (nine) who became Plunkett’s landmark success when he top-edged an intended big hit and wicket-keeper Jos Buttler held a skyer. It had taken the 31-year-old 37 ODIs to take 50 wickets, with his first being Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf when the Yorkshireman struck on debut in Karachi back in 2005. “It’s only taken 11 years!” said Plunkett. “Obviously, it’s an achievement — and I’m happy with it.” Over the years Plunkett’s own inconsistent form has seen him fall down the pecking order of England pace bowlers. But with the speed gun in Bristol timing Plunkett at 93 mph, he could force his way back into the Test side if spearhead quick James Anderson, who has a shoulder injury, is ruled out of next month’s series opener against Pakistan at Lord’s. 

“You still want to play Test cricket. I’ll probably still want to play Test cricket when I’m 38,” added Plunkett who played the last of his 13 Tests against India at Lord’s in 2014. “After this series, I’ll go back and try to perform for Yorkshire with the red ball. “If you get the nod (for the Tests), perfect; if not, you just keep cracking away.” Chandimal completed a 65-ball fifty before getting a thick edge off Chris Woakes to Chris Jordan at third man. “It was tough, when I went into bat it’s always two (wickets) down so I need to rebuild the innings until 30-35 overs, then after that we need to get at least 270 plus,” said Chandimal. Read: England vs Sri Lanka 2016, 3rd ODI: Match Abandoned as ENG lead 1-0

Turning to his dismissal, Chandimal said: “As a player, you have to go with that kind of shot in that period but unfortunately I got out.” On Friday, Sri Lanka had 34.1 overs in the field without any success as England openers Jason Roy (112 not out) and Alex Hales (133 not out) compiled an unbroken stand of 256. It was a very different story for Hales on Sunday when he was caught behind for a golden duck chasing a wide delivery from Suranga Lakmal. Sri Lanka will need victories at both The Oval and in Cardiff, where the fifth ODI takes place on Saturday, if they are to win the series.

And Chandimal promised the tourists, well beaten 2-0 by England in a preceding three-Test series, would not lack for effort. “The last two games, the fielding has been below par,” said Chandimal. “But as a team, every day we are improving. “We are going to put our heart and soul into the game and we are looking forward to doing well.” Chandimal has been struggling with a hamstring injury but the 26-year-old said he expected to be available for the rest of the series. “A bit tight, my back and bum,” said Chandimal when asked about his fitness. “But I am OK for the next two games.”