Sri Lanka v England 2nd Test Preview

Although Sri Lanka is usually very solid at home, they put up a mediocre show in the first Test of the 3-match series against England at Galle where they were thumped by the visitors by 211 runs. The first Test was also Rangana Herath’s farewell Test and Sri Lanka have a mighty challenge in front of them to draw level without the ace spinner’s presence in the second Test at Kandy.

Sri Lanka without Chandimal – a big blow

While they must have mentally coped with the absence of Herath, Sri Lanka got a massive blow when Dinesh Chandimal, their captain and most important batsman, was ruled out of the second Test due to injury. With 16 hundreds and 3676 runs in 49 Tests at an average of 44.28, Chandimal is easily Lanka’s best batsman after Angelo Matthews and was also in form, having scored two fifties in the previous match. The hosts would hence dearly miss his services. Suranga Lakmal should be leading the side in the second Test. Charith Asalanka, an exciting 21-year-old batting all-rounder, has been called up in his place.

Four batsmen who need to step up for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s latest failings have primarily been because of the inconsistencies of their batsmen. Some of their regular performers have been failing and would really need to step up. Since the start of 2017, Angelo Matthews has managed 788 runs from 26 innings at an average of 30.30, Kusal Mendis has mustered 1352 runs from 35 innings, at 38.62, Niroshan Dickwella has gathered 1105 runs from 37 innings, at 32.50 and Kaushal Silva has 151 runs from 10 innings at 15.10. These are ordinary numbers and would need to improve if Sri Lanka hopes to fight back.

England would bank on their spinners

In the previous Test, England’s spin trio of Moeen Ali, Jack Leach and Adil Rashid took 16 wickets among themselves. They bowled tight lines and maintained pressure. England captain Joe Root would be hoping that the spinners do the job again as the track at Kandy should be dry and assist turn and bounce.

England’s batting gives them the edge

The dream debut by Ben Foakes where he smashed a glittering 107 and the composed 146 by Keaton Jennings meant that England’s batting shone brightly in the first Test. And while captain Joe Root remains out of form, they still have Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Butler and Sam Curran to depend on. England’s batting thus looks formidable and having a good spin combination going for them they will have the edge against a Sri Lankan side which has a frail batting unit, barring Angela Matthews’ presence, and an underperforming bowling unit. Unless Suranga Lakmal really digs in and Akila Dananjaya springs a surprise, Sri Lanka is likely to struggle again.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch at Kandy is expected to be a turner after the Sri Lankan management have expressed their disappointment at the lack of turn at Galle. While there is a threat of some possible rain, conditions should be dry and good for batting in the first two days. Overcast conditions might bring in the English seamers James Anderson and Sam Curran into the picture.

Sri Lanka predicted XI

1 Kaushal Silva, 2 Dimuth Karunaratne , 3 Roshen Silva, 4 Kusal Mendis, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dhananjaya de Silva, 8 Dilruwan Perera, 9 Suranga Lakmal (capt), 10 Akila Dananjaya, 11 Malinda Pushpakumara

England predicted XI

1 Rory Burns, 2 Keaton Jennings, 3 Jos Buttler, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Moeen Ali, 7 Ben Foakes (wk), 8 Sam Curran, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Jack Leach, 11 James Anderson

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