Saturday July 2, 2016
Start time 10.30am (0930GMT)
At the midway mark at The Oval on Wednesday evening, it appeared Sri Lanka had done enough to at least stretch England by putting more than 300 on the board in a match reduced to 42 overs per side. Yet it became another canter as Jason Roy plundered 162 to add another notch to the team's storied 12 months in white-ball cricket.
It means that the series is decided heading into Cardiff, creating one of those 'dead' bilateral matches that is vexing those in charge of the international cricket as they attempt to remodel the calendar to bring greater context to the game. However, it is not a match completely without meaning - there are rankings positions to play for and victory for England would ensure they move to fifth in the one-day table, another step on the climb towards the top three that Paul Farbrace, the assistant coach, believes they have to be at to be serious contenders for the 2019 World Cup.
There is also the not-so-small matter of putting on a show for the Cardiff crowd. Attendances throughout this series have been excellent - only the poor forecast prevented every seat being filled at The Oval - which suggests that the angst felt about the 50-over game is perhaps more in the minds of those in charge than the paying punter who wants to enjoy a day out.
England are certainly value for money these days, when the weather allows them on the park. No target appears to daunt them with a batting line-up that includes Adil Rashid at No. 11. After a 10-wicket win chasing 255 and then The Oval pursuit, the talk is of how high this batting line-up can reach. After four matches where they have batted second, it would be interesting - and potentially thrilling - to see them set a target.
Sri Lanka have tired minds and sore bodies after a tour where, apart from small passages of play, there has been clear daylight between them and England. The batting has shown promise, but the paucity of the bowling means they needed more than the raft of half-centuries that have been produced. They will have to dig deep to prevent a 3-0 scoreline.
England WWTLL (completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLTWW
In the spotlight
The most out-of-form England batsman? It's the captain, Eoin Morgan. All things are relative - he has scored 43 and 22 in his two innings of the series - and he fell to a spectacular catch at The Oval - but it is now 20 international innings since he has made a half-century. He has plenty of credit in the bank, as Alastair Cook did when he struggled in the Test side, but as the current climate in the UK shows banks can still run into trouble. Morgan appears to have shelved his first-class ambitions, so the limited-overs game is his domain and no captain wants discussion about his own form to become a dominating issue.
Danushka Gunathilaka enjoyed his best match of the series at The Oval, scoring a composed 62 off 64 balls, nipping in with the wicket of Joe Root then holding that catch for the ages at backward point when Morgan larruped his square cut. Sri Lanka want to give youth a chance at the top of the order - it is one of the reasons they have resisted promoting Upul Tharanga - and it has become the sort of tour where small successes such as Gunathilaka's are what they need to grab hold of.
Alex Hales did not open the batting at The Oval after suffering a back spasm in the field, but batted freely in the nets on Friday. England don't appear in the mood to rotate for the sake of it so the only decision to make seems to be whether to swap Chris Jordan for Moeen Ali on a ground with a short, straight boundary as happened in Bristol.
England (probable) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali/Chris Jordan, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 David Willey, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Adil Rashid
A weary-looking Angelo Mathews hinted at changes following the loss of the series. A few of the squad are being held together by sticking plaster and painkillers so they could go through their reserve players, although the Sri Lanka camp said everyone was fit and available for selection. Niroshan Dickwella, who replaced Lahiru Thirimanne, and Dhananjaya de Silva have yet to play this series.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Danushka Gunathilaka, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews (capt), 6 Seekkuge Prasanna, 7 Upul Tharanga, 8 Dasun Shanaka, 9 Farveez Maharoof, 10 Nuwan Pradeep, 11 Suranga Lakmal
Pitch and conditions
Royal London Cup scores this season have ranged from 218 to 302. There is a short straight boundary towards the River Taff which will tempt the powerful hitters in both teams. The spinners will need to hold their nerve. The forecast is promising with just the outside chance of a shower.
Stats and trivia
England's scoring rate in ODIs since May 1, 2015 is 6.33 - the highest among all teams.
Kusal Perera needs three runs to reach 1500 in ODIs
Jason Roy has 282 runs in the series. The record for England in a series of up to five matches is 383 by Alex Hales, against South Africa, earlier this year. No England batsman has scored more then two centuries in a series of up to five matches - Kevin Pietersen's record of three came in a seven-match series against South Africa in 2005.
"If we want to be the best in the world we're going to have to win more consistently and days like tomorrow are going to become more important. Building up winning streaks is what it's all about so tomorrow's game is as important as any in this series."
Joe Root doesn't want any slackening off by England
"It's been a tough tour, losing the Test series as well as the one-dayers but we just have to go again. It's up to us to showcase our talent and willingness to win. The boys are up for it and hopefully we can give it a good show."
Farveez Maharoof tells his team-mates to dig deep