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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

Weather continues to wreak havoc as rain washes out first ODI between Sri Lanka and England

Only 15 overs were played in Dambulla, with the tourists 92-2 having seen one of their warm-up matches also washed out

The covers stayed on the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium pitch as rain washed out the first ODI between Sri Lanka and England. AFP
The covers stayed on the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium pitch as rain washed out the first ODI between Sri Lanka and England. AFP

Weather once again took centre stage as heavy rain washed out the first one-day international between Sri Lanka and England after just 15 overs played in Dambulla.

Having already lost one of their two warm-up matches to rain in Colombo last week - the other finishing early due to bad light - England were again left pondering the decision to visit the island so close to monsoon season.

Play got under way at the Ranjiri ground on schedule, at 1pm UAE time, but little more than an hour's action was possible before a lengthy downpour began rendering the outfield unplayable despite extensive covering.

England had been asked to bat first by Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal and reached 92-2 before the early end to proceedings.

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The same four batsmen who made it to the middle during their solitary tour match - Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan - were again the only ones to see action.

That means the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali go into Saturday's second ODI, at the same venue, without a ball faced between them on the trip.

For Warwickshire paceman Olly Stone the occasion was something of an anti-climax. He was handed his international debut, and presented with his cap by Darren Gough, but lining up for the national anthems was the closest he got to making his mark on the field of play.

"There were three or four really muddy patches," England captain Morgan said. "Player safety is paramount. Hopefully we'll have some luck with the weather along the way. It's unfortunate for Olly, I know he is itching to get out there."

Liam Dawson, selected as a third specialist spinner ahead of seamer Mark Wood, was also denied the chance to impress.

Instead the first bowling duties of the day went to Lasith Malinga, playing his first ODI against England since the 2015 World Cup.

Roy pulled an early short ball for four and dispatched a full toss as the veteran struggled for rhythm, with Bairstow piercing the infield with a pair of sweet drives off Nuwan Pradeep.

Bairstow was first to fall, held low by wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella after Pradeep found the edge, to make it 49-1.

Sri Lanka doubled down on their breakthrough moments later when Roy aimed a big swing at Dananjaya and succeeded only in looping a catch to mid-off for 24.

Root (25 not out) edged his third ball just past slip but quickly settled in to his work, with a particularly powerful hook off Malinga.

Morgan (14 not out) went down on one knee to flog Dananjaya for six, but it was the final moment of interest before several fruitless hours of waiting for bad news.