Joe Root says there is "an element of relief" that England's Test series in Sri Lanka was postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed on Friday it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket.

England were due to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting in Galle on March 19.

The ECB said the "physical and mental well-being of our players" is its priority and captain Root has backed the call to abandon the tour.

"The right decision has been made," he told Sky Sports. "There was an element of relief. You could see looking at the players that their minds were elsewhere, thinking about people back home.

"Now that we can go and look after families and be with loved ones, that's put a lot of guys at ease." 

England's second warm-up fixture with a SLC Board President's XI was abandoned on Friday when news of the Tour cancellation was announced. 

"Naturally there was a lot of talk in the dressing room and it got to a stage where it overshadowed the cricket," Root said. 

"Looking at how quickly things have happened at home, you're thinking about family and friends who might be a bit more vulnerable and that's hard when you're a long way away. 

"It was clear it was getting in the way of performance and affecting the mental well-being of the guys." 

England's Test tour of Sri Lanka has joined the growing list of sporting events to be postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement on Friday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) confirmed it had made the decision to return its players to the United Kingdom following discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, "due to the COVID-19 pandemic worsening globally".

England were set to play two Test matches in Sri Lanka, starting on March 19 and 27. They completed their first warm-up fixture against a SLC Board President's XI in Katunayake last week and began another game against the same opposition in Colombo on Thursday. Joe Root's side were on the field contesting the latter fixture when the news was announced, but play was soon suspended.

The ECB confirmed its intention to reschedule the Tests against Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

It added: "At this time, the physical and mental wellbeing of our players and support teams is paramount. We will now look to bring them home to their families as soon as possible. These are completely unprecedented times, and decisions like this go beyond cricket.

"We would like to thank our colleagues at Sri Lanka Cricket for their outstanding support and assistance throughout this situation.

"We look forward to returning to Sri Lanka in the very near future to fulfil this important Test series."

Lahiru Thirimanne has been left out of Sri Lanka's squad for the Test series with England.

The opening batsman was part of the squad for Sri Lanka's 1-0 win in Zimbabwe but did not feature in the two-match series.

He has not played in the longest format for his country since August last year against New Zealand.

Kusal Perera takes his place for this two-game series, though a finger injury could keep him out of the first Test.

Wanindu Hasaranga, impressive in recent limited-overs clashes with West Indies, earned a place in the squad as the 16th man.

However, a hamstring injury will prevent him from playing any role in the series. His replacement is expected to be named before the first Test, which starts on March 19 in Galle.

 

Sri Lanka squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Lasith Embuldeniya, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga (injured, replacement to be named before first Test), Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Mendis, Dilruwan Perera, Kusal Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan. 

Windies T20 captain Kieron Pollard is feeling a sense of relief after coming away from Sri Lanka with a series victory after being swamped in the One-Day Internationals before that.

The West Indies beat back the challenge of the hosts 2-0, completing the route with a seven-wicket win in Pallekele on Friday.

Sent into bat, Sri Lanka recovered from 48-4 in the 12th over to score 155-6 thanks to Dasun Shanaka’s 31 not out and Thisara Perera’s unbeaten 21 but that wasn’t enough.

In reply, the West Indies, despite the early loss of Lendl Simmons, 9, didn’t have too much trouble chasing the target with a long, powerful batting line-up, where Brandon King scored 43, Shimron Hetmyer was unbeaten on 43 and Andre Russell scored a remarkable 40 not out, inclusive of six sixes.

“Pretty satisfied to leave Sri Lankan shores with a victory, we hadn't won a T20I series in a while,” said Pollard.

The skipper lauded the team for the effort they put into the two games, saying he liked the fact that the intensity remained high over the course of the two games. The West Indies won the first encounter on Wednesdat by 25 runs.  

“The guys executed nicely, the foundation was laid by Brandon King, the young man is finding his feet in international cricket, Russell finished it off and the bowlers were brilliant,” said Pollard.

On Wednesday, the West Indies had a scare after Kusal Perera threatened to take the game away from them. Pollard had said then, that he would reveal his plans for there not to be a repeat.

“He is always looking for the length ball, every time we bowl fuller he tends to miss, our analyst has done a brilliant job, and as I said, it was a total team effort,” he said.

The bowling effort, Pollard said, was better than in the last game and better than it has been in a while.

“We were trying to make them hit to one side of the park only,” he said, pointing out that his team had previously been leaking runs on both sides of the wicket, making it difficult to contain scoring.

Now, Pollard said, it was just for the team to create those performances consistently.

Big-hitting Windies all-rounder Andre Russell believes the team is set to peak at just the right time, with the ICC T20 World Cup just on the horizon.

Russell played a starring role as the Windies closed out its T20 series against Sri Lanka, with a convincing 7 wickets win at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Friday.  The 2-0 win triumph for the West Indies was the team’s first series win against an opponent since Bangladesh in 2019.

For a re-tooled Windies team looking to win an unprecedented third world title, the all-rounder believes that while the team has a long way to go, the victory is timely encouragement.

“We are peaking at the right time but we still have some areas to work on as a team,” Russell, who was named man of the series, said.

“We have a new set of guys who have the professional mind-set and we know what we have to do to better than what we have been doing.  I just hope everyone is in tuned in and ready to make the sacrifices moving forward to work on our cricket.”

Russell ended the series with a decisive 75 runs and one wicket.

 

 

Andre Russell blasted 40 off just 14 balls to see West Indies home against Sri Lanka, while Shimron Hetmyer and Brandon King also starred in a series-clinching Twenty20 victory.

Sri Lanka, who were inserted by the tourists, were restricted to 155-6 and Dasun Shanaka (31 not out) was their only batsman to score more than 23.

The home team needed something special from their talisman Lasith Malinga with the ball, but the captain's three overs cost 46 runs as King (43) set the tone with back-to-back sixes in the powerplay.

Hetmyer (43 not out) shared a 46-run partnership with King and then put on an unbroken 55 alongside Russell, who smashed six maximums to bring about the end in a hurry.

Sri Lanka lost the first T20 by 25 runs and this Windies victory, achieved with 18 balls to spare, gave them a 2-0 triumph in the best-of-two-match series.

Oshane Thomas was the star of that opening T20 and he claimed his sixth wicket of the series when bowling Avishka Fernando.

Fabian Allen accounted for opener Kusal Perera, who had made 66 in the first meeting, and Shehan Jayasuriya to return figures of 2-24 from his four overs.

Sri Lanka needed early wickets and though Lendl Simmons was bowled by Angelo Mathews, King had made 43 from 21 before he was dismissed.

Some quick thinking from Jayasuriya in the deep saw Rovman Powell removed, the fielder throwing the ball up in the air and catching it again after rolling back off the rope and onto the field.

Yet Hetmyer and Russell could not be stopped, the latter pulling a shorter ball from Mathews over the fence to seal victory.

Windies T20 captain Kieron Pollard is very aware that while his side cruised to victory against Sri Lanka in the first game of a T20 series in Pallekele could have gone very differently had Andre Russell not bowled Kusal Perera in the 18th over.

The West Indies won the game by 25 runs after scoring an imposing 196-4 on the back of Lendl Simmons’ unbeaten 67 and 30s from Brandon King (33), Russell (35) and Pollard (34).

It almost wasn’t enough, as Kusal counter-attacked brilliantly, slamming 66 from 38 deliveries, despite Oshane Thomas’ soul-crushing 5-28.

Wanindu Hasaranga was also dangerous against the West Indies, scoring 44 from 34 deliveries, to keep the run chase alive after helping his recover from 56-5 in the sixth over.

While Pollard understands that Kusal was dangerous and could be so again, he was not yet willing to divulge what his bowlers needed to do hold on to a more powerful position.

“I'll tell you our plan to Kusal Perera after the next game, he's obviously their mainstay,” he said.

Rather, Pollard wanted to focus on the effort the team put into creating a fairly comfortable victory in the end.

Thomas came in for some praise, with Pollard speaking about the work he had put in recently after questions arose about his fitness.

“Total team effort, Oshane Thomas brilliant, he has been doing hard work back home and it's showing,” said Pollard.

Pollard also thought highly of Rovman Powell’s performance with the ball.

Powell removed Hasaranga in the 16th over, trapping him leg before and changing the course of the game, as well as Thisara Perera, who was also scoring quickly when he had him caught by Sheldon Cottrell.

“We had an unsung hero in Rovman Powell with the ball late in the innings,” said Pollard, recognizing that the efforts of Thomas and Simmons may have overshadowed the allrounder’s contribution.

West Indies marked captain Kieron Pollard's 500th T20 game with a dominant victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Pollard became the first player to feature in 500 T20 matches and surpassed 10,000 runs in the format in Pallekele as the Windies cruised to a 25-run win.

The only other T20 series contested by the Windies this year ended in a 1-1 draw with Ireland. However, on this occasion the reigning T20 world champions provided compelling evidence they could defend their title later this year.

Oshane Thomas took a remarkable 5-28, the third-best figures in the team's T20I history, as Sri Lanka fell well shy of the visitors' 196-4 despite Kusal Perera's 66 off 38 balls.

Lendl Simmons had led the way with the bat for the tourists in the first game of a two-match series, his unbeaten 67 off 51 balls including seven fours and a pair of sixes.

Andre Russell cleared the rope four times in a quickfire 35 off 14 before Pollard, whose jersey was adorned with the number 500, added further impetus with 34 off 15 to help the Windies to their highest T20I score against Sri Lanka.

The hosts' hopes of reaching 197 quickly wilted in the face of a devastating bowling performance from Thomas, who had Avishka Fernando caught behind in the second over.

Shehan Jayasuriya followed with the next delivery and, though Thomas was unable to claim a hat-trick, Kusal Mendis' exit made it three in four balls for the seamer.

That left Sri Lanka on 17-3 but Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews steadied the innings before the latter picked out a running Russell at midwicket.

Dasun Shanaka was done for pace as Thomas made it a five-for, yet Kusal Perera's stand of 87 with Wanindu Hasaranga (44 off 34) gave Sri Lanka hope.

However, the Windies correctly reviewed an lbw shout against Hasaranga and Kusal Perera was removed six balls later as Russell struck with a near-perfect yorker.

Thisara Perera (11) did offer fleeting resistance but was caught at deep square leg by Sheldon Cottrell who, after Pollard had fittingly taken a diving catch to remove Isuru Udana, rounded things off by cleaning up Lasith Malinga.

Joe Root has revealed England will fist bump rather shake hands during their tour of Sri Lanka due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Illness swept through the England camp during a successful recent tour of South Africa.

Captain Root says they will be taking no chances in Sri Lanka, where they start a two-match Test series in Galle on March 19.

Speaking before England boarded the plane for their latest tour, the batsman said: "After South Africa we are well aware of the importance of keeping contact to a minimum and we've been given some really sound and sensible advice from our medical team to help prevent spreading germs and bacteria.

"We are not shaking hands with each other – using instead the well-established fist bump – and we are washing hands regularly and wiping down surfaces using the antibacterial wipes and gels we've been given in our immunity packs.

"There is no suggestion that the tour will be affected.

"But of course, it is an evolving situation, so we are in regular contact with the authorities and will proceed as advised."

Angelo Mathews took four wickets to propel Sri Lanka to a six-run win over West Indies in the third one-day international on Sunday and a 3-0 series sweep.

Batting first after winning the toss, Sri Lanka was bowled out for 307 in 50 overs. Kusal Mendis top-scored with 55 off 48 balls and Dhananjaya de Silva made a 47-ball 51. West Indies in reply narrowly fell short at 301-9.

West Indies seam bowler Alzarri Joseph took 4-65.

Shai Hope top-scored for the West Indies with 72 off 88 balls. Fellow opener Sunil Ambris made a run-a-ball 60 and Nicholas Pooran scored 50. Mathews took 4-59 in 10 overs and was player of the match.

Sri Lanka won the first ODI by one wicket and the second by 161 runs.

Sri Lanka completed a series sweep over West Indies as Angelo Mathews held his nerve in the final over to clinch a six-run victory in the third ODI.

Replying to the home team's total of 307, West Indies appeared on course in their chase when they reached 171-1 during the 31st over, Shai Hope leading the way with 72.

Sunil Ambris had made 60 during an opening stand of 111 with Hope, who continued his fine run of form during the tour before chipping Isuru Udana to midwicket.

Nicholas Pooran and captain Kieron Pollard contributed 50 and 49 respectively, yet Mathews removed both as an ever-climbing required rate saw West Indies' chances subside in Pallekele.

The tourists were left needing 13 from the final over and despite a boundary off the first delivery, Fabian Allen's departure for a quick-fire 37 was crucial. All-rounder Mathews gave away just three more runs to finish with 4-59.

Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva had earlier hit half-centuries for Sri Lanka, with the top eight in their order all reaching double figures before they were bowled out from the final ball of the innings.

Skipper Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera made 44 apiece, the former sharing a 60-run alliance with opening partner Avishka Fernando.

After Karunaratne was caught and bowled by Roston Chase at the start of the 20th over, Kusal and Mendis – who made 55 - combined in an 89-run stand for the third wicket. While the pair fell in successive overs, their partnership was key to setting up a sizeable target on a sluggish surface.

Dhananjaya hit five boundaries in his knock of 51 that spanned 47 deliveries and Thisara Perera made 38 in the closing stages, the duo adding 64 for the sixth wicket.

Alzarri Joseph dismissed the pair in the closing stages on his way to figures of 4-65, taking his tally of wickets in the three-match series to 10.

England fast bowler Mark Wood has been ruled out of the Test squad to face Sri Lanka due to a left side strain.

The injury-plagued Wood aggravated the problem at the end of the South Africa tour and has been replaced in the party that travels to Sri Lanka on Monday by uncapped Lancashire quick Saqib Mahmood.

The Durham paceman damaged his side during the 2019 Cricket World Cup final in July and, after undergoing surgery for an unrelated knee injury, returned for the third Test in Port Elizabeth in January, a match he only played in due to Jofra Archer withdrawing with what turned out to be a fractured elbow.

Wood bowled at incredible pace as he claimed figures of 9-100 and player-of-the-match honours in the 191-run victory over the Proteas in the fourth Test that sealed a 3-1 series win.

The 30-year-old sat out the ODI matches but featured in February's three Twenty20 games versus South Africa but has again been consigned to the sidelines.

Injury problems have restricted Wood to just 15 Test appearances since making his debut in 2015.

His latest setback means the scrutiny on how England manage their fast bowlers on the tour of Sri Lanka, where they will be without Wood, Archer and James Anderson, will likely increase.

The first Test is scheduled to begin in Galle on March 19.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said that while he could pinpoint a great many things his side got wrong during a one-sided affair against Sri Lanka at Hambantota on Wednesday, he would not go into the business of scapegoating but would talk to his team about what transpired.

Sri Lanka won the game by 161 runs but more importantly, the hosts now hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match ODI series.

The hosts benefitted from centuries of 127  and 119 from opener Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis respectively, the pair helping them to a mammoth 345-8 from their 50 overs. The West Indies did not get close, as only Shai Hope, 51, and Roston Chase, 31, offered any resistance.

The visitors would end on 184 all out against the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga, 3-30, Lakshan Sandakan, 3-57, and Nuwan Pradeep, 2-37. There was also a wicket for Angelo Matthews, 1-20.

But Pollard did point out that things could have been different had he not dropped Mendis early in the innings and maybe, the series would now be different.

"It was the start we were looking forward to, getting two wickets early. But I put the catch of Kusal Mendis down, otherwise they would have been three down,” said Pollard.

In addition, Pollard believes his side did not have faith in the plans they made.

“We didn't stick to our plans long enough. I don't think we were up to the international standard today. Well bowled to them and well played to them,” he said.

Pollard will now look toward the final game of the series to see if the West Indies can win one.

“We weren't there in all three departments today. We can pinpoint a lot of things but I don't want to go into a lot of details. We'll do that as a team. I cop this one on the chin and we move on to Kandy."

Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis combined for a 239-run third-wicket stand to set Sri Lanka on course to thrash West Indies on Wednesday and clinch their three-match ODI series.

Sri Lanka were in complete control of the second one-dayer after opener Fernando (127) and Mendis (119) produced a dominant early showing, teeing up a 161-run triumph in Hambantota.

The hosts did not hit a single six but posted 345-8, the biggest total in men's ODI history not to include a maximum.

And the Windies never looked capable of causing Sri Lanka serious trouble with the bat, opener Shai Hope's knock of 51 their best effort as they were bowled out for an underwhelming 184 with 65 balls remaining.

The tourists' day had started in positive enough fashion, with Kieron Pollard winning the toss, choosing to bowl and then seeing Sheldon Cottrell (4-67) remove home captain Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera from consecutive deliveries in only the third over.

But that was just about as good as it got, with Fernando and Mendis subsequently combining for their devastating, match-turning partnership.

They stood together for 228 balls until Alzarri Joseph (3-57) finally made a breakthrough in the 41st over, as Mendis, who survived an early drop from Pollard, top-edged for a comfortable Hope take.

Although Joseph took out both Fernando and Angelo Mathews in his next over, the scoreboard had long since got away from the Windies, and scoring remained steady throughout the remainder of the innings.

The reply was initially solid enough, but Hope left partner Sunil Ambris (17) high and dry for a run out.

Mathews got Hope, and then Wanindu Hasaranga (3-30) came to the fore, his haul including a golden duck for Windies skipper Pollard.

Only brief floodlight failure after the eighth wicket delayed Sri Lanka's progress, with the final two dismissals arriving within four balls of the restart courtesy of Nuwan Pradeep (2-37) and Lakshan Sandakan (3-57).

The West Indies, despite coming up short in the series opener against Sri Lanka, will have plenty of positives to take into a must-win second ODI against the hosts, at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

The regional team would have been encouraged by its batting, despite the failures of the middle order, with most of the top four coming good before the lower order showed a lot of grit in laying the finishing touches to an innings that had lost significant steam.  Their bowlers couldn’t quite haul them to victory, but they pushed Sri Lanka to the limit, making the home team earn their win.

Sri Lanka will also have been encouraged, most notably the number of contributions they received from all around the batting order.  Now, the key for them would be to retain that level of consistency and seal the series, something they haven’t been quite adept at doing in the recent past.  But with the familiarity of home, and a hard-earned win to boot, they sure do have the belief that it can be done.

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