Southampton: Dawid Malan’s dynamic 76 from 48 balls helped England to an 89-run win at Southampton on Saturday as they claimed a 3-0 clean sweep of Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 series.
Malan had managed just single figure scores in England’s two wins in Cardiff earlier this series and a lone fifty in seven previous innings at this level.
But the world’s top-ranked T20 batsman showed his class during an innings featuring five fours and four sixes
With Jos Buttler and Jason Roy injured, Malan opened with Jonny Bairstow and the pair shared a stand of 105.
England, however, lost five wickets for 19 runs, with Dushmantha Chameera taking 4-17, as they were bowled out for 180.
But a seemingly modest target proved well beyond Sri Lanka, who were dismissed for 91, with left-arm quick David Willey taking 3-27.
Malan’s low scores in Wales re-opened the debate about whether he should be included in England’s squad for the T20 World Cup in October, even though he came into 2021 with a remarkable average of 53.43 and a strike-rate of 149.47 in 19 matches at this level.
Asked about the speculation, Malan said: “It does hurt you sometimes, especially if you feel like it might not be fair at the time. Ultimately our job is to score runs and if you don’t score runs, you’re going to get criticism, it’s as simple as that.”
Malan thanked England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan, also the skipper of the 2019 50-over World Cup-winning side, for his support.
“I think the one thing that this England white-ball team has been so good at is they don’t listen to the noise, they don’t allow the noise to come in.
“Eoin and (head coach) Chris Silverwood are fantastic at backing you as a player because ultimately they’re the ones that make the decisions, not the people that criticise.”
Malan has been linked with a Test recall after making 199 for Yorkshire in the County Championship this season and with several England batsmen having endured a miserable series during a recent 1-0 series loss to New Zealand.
England travel to Australia later this year in a quest to regain the Ashes, with Malan’s lone Test hundred having come in the 2017/18 series ‘Down Under’.
“If I got that call, I’d love to play Test cricket again for England,” he said. “If it is in Australia with a Kookaburra ball that does slightly less, I’d take that as well.”
England and Sri Lanka meet again in the first of three one-day internationals at Chester-le-Street on Tuesday, with the tourists’ batting set for another stiff test.
“We knew it was going to be a tough series coming into it, but our batting wasn’t up to the mark,” said Sri Lanka captain Kusal Perera after Saturday’s match.
“That was our main issue. We couldn’t get used to the pace and the bounce of the pitches and conditions.”