After months of waiting, finally, the England tour of Sri Lanka is all set to begin. Last time the Joe Root-led side was in the island nation and played some red-ball cricket, they dominated the hosts. The English spinners were too good back in 2018 on those dusty wickets in Sri Lanka while the batsmen persevered and stayed strong. The fact which would worry the hosts is that most of the English players from that series are back for this tour as well.
But, it will be difficult for the visitors to whitewash the Lankans at home once again. Not because Sri Lanka has been in tremendous form, but because they have got all their important players back to at least be in the starting XI. The home side will welcome Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews along with fast bowler Suranga Lakmal. Their spin attack has also significantly changed since the 2018 series. The experience of Dilruwan Perera equipped with the new faces in whites, Wanindu Hasaranga and Lasith Embuldeniya adds more variety to the bowling.
England, on the other hand, will miss the services of star all-rounder Ben Stokes. Moeen Ali, who was instrumental in England’s victory in the last series is also set to miss the first Test at least. Neither of their openers has experience of playing in the sub-continent. If they were to do well in these conditions, the visitors would need their captain Root to stand up and score some runs. The skipper has not been on top of his craft in the last couple of years. With a new year around, Root would want to make up for all the runs he might have missed out on, during the last summer.
The two Tests are quite crucial for both sides considering their positions in the World Test Championship. 60 points at this point would be invaluable for England, who are sitting on the fourth position comfortably but have another tough series against India, starting next month. Sri Lanka would know they won’t finish in the top two, but the recent losses against the Proteas have put them even below than they would have imagined.
A home series against a team that has a history with vulnerability against quality spin bowling, nothing appeals as an opportunity for a Lankan side than this.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the Galle International Stadium is no less than a heaven for spinners. The ball starts turning square right from the first day’s play. However, the pitch on the first two days is good for batting. There is some dampness around but the wicket has been reported to be dry. The weather forecast suggests that there might be showers on all days of the Test match.
Playing combinations for SL vs ENG
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal will be welcomed by the hosts and add to the batting prowess. Suranga Lakmal is also back in the side. Lahiru Thirimanne is also likely to keep his place in the side. Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga have impressive performances so both are likely to keep their places and add depth to the batting.
Playing XI: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal
England: The visitors are likely to go for three pacers and two spinners in their side, as Moeen Ali has been ruled out. Dominic Bess and Jack Leach will have to do the bulk of bowling. Jonny Bairstow will make his Test comeback in the absence of Rory Burns. Sam Curran, the only proper all-rounder in the side, would be invaluable in absence of Ben Stokes. Dan Lawrence will take a spot in the middle order.
Probable XI: Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (C), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Mark Wood, James Anderson
SL vs ENG Head to head
Played – 34 | Sri Lanka – 8 | England – 15 | Draw – 11 | Tied – 0
SL vs ENG Broadcast Details
Match Timings- 10:00 AM (IST)
TV – Sony Sports Network
Live Streaming – Sony LIV
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