England's top-order were dismal but Liam Plunkett has wrestled momentum in their favour with last-ball heroics

 
Chris Tremlett
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England v Sri Lanka - 1st ODI Royal London One-Day Series 2016
Plunkett smashed a last-ball six to salvage a tie for England (Source: Getty)

Liam Plunkett’s thrilling last-ball six to salvage a tie for England in their opening one-day clash with Sri Lanka on Tuesday night will be shown repeatedly on highlights reels and what a great hit it was.

The 31-year-old made his England debut more than a decade ago and he’s a good cricketer. He’s had his ups and downs during his career but he seems to get better with age. He’s also a very underrated batsman.

Plunkett looks a bit more comfortable with himself in an England shirt these days because he did have a tendency to look a bit nervous at times. In my opinion, he should probably have a few more opportunities in the Test arena.

There were a couple of other impressive knocks in England’s reply with Jos Buttler scoring 93 and Chris Woakes, who has a good average of 36.93 in first-class cricket, coming in at No8 and finishing unbeaten on 95.

In the end it was a fantastic effort from England’s lower order to instigate a comeback following a pretty dismal effort in the opening 15-20 overs from the frontline batsmen.

Skipper Eoin Morgan talked of rustiness. The team hasn’t played together for a while and some of the guys have been playing a fair bit of red-ball cricket domestically in recent weeks, but they can't really use that as an excuse.

It was simply poor batting and indifferent shot selection. Opener Jason Roy missed a straight ball, Morgan and Alex Hales played a couple of poor shots to get out and Joe Root went back to a ball when he shouldn’t have.

I’m sure those batsmen who underperformed will be working hard in the nets to rectify matters before the second instalment of the five-match 50-over series at Edgbaston on Friday.

But despite those top-order woes, England will take a lot of confidence into the next match having tied a game they should have lost. In truth, Sri Lanka messed it up and looked as if they were celebrating a little prematurely.

When the tourists had England 30-4 and then 82-6, they were probably thinking they had the game won, and then with a ball to go they were pretty much jumping around thinking they were heading for a 1-0 series lead.

It would have been deflating for them waking up this morning having failed to win a game they ought to, and I certainly think England will head to Birmingham with momentum from Plunkett’s last-gasp heroics.