England are in Sri Lanka with the knowledge that they need a brace of wins to keep themselves in the hunt for the World Test Championship.
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Much of Sri Lanka’s squad have been on the island for less time than the tourists having wrapped up their tour of South Africa after Joe Root’s men touched down.
Sri Lanka vs England | 14 January – 18 January 2021 | Galle International Stadium
To Win Match
Sri Lanka 21/10
Despite being comfortably beaten in South Africa, the Sri Lanka Test group could take a handful of positives from their trip, including their highest score in the format in their opponent’s backyard.
Dimuth Karunaratne looked to be getting back to his best towards the tail end of the series and opening partner Kusal Perera also showed flashes of brilliance.
Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga enjoyed a solid debut in conditions that weren’t favourable and back at home will likely pose a considerable threat to England’s best.
Injuries hit the camp hard on tour, but there remains a possibility that Dhananjaya De Silva could return for the series, if not at Galle, then in the second Test.
England won their last series in Sri Lanka which should give them hope of getting something out of this series with much of the same personnel available.
The tourists were dealt a heavy blow by Moeen Ali’s COVID-19 positive test result which means that England’s spin department will likely be manned by Dom Bess and Jack Leach. It should be a big series for both men with Bess expected to chip in with the bat as well as sending down his share of the overs.
England’s veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad expect to be used sparingly, and it is possible they might not play together on this trip.
Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley will be tasked with laying a suitable platform for England’s strong middle order to take advantage of and avoiding an early collapse.
Verdict: Sri Lanka 21/10
It isn’t a certainty but Sri Lanka should be favoured at home.