Match: Sri Lanka vs England (SL vs ENG, 1st Test)
Date: January 14 – January 18, 2021
Venue: Galle Cricket Stadium – Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankans will enter the game on the back of a 0-2 loss against South Africa in the Rainbow Nation, but they are a formidable unit when it comes to playing at home. Though England managed to win the series 3-0 when they toured Sri Lanka in 2018, they will face a stiff task this time around, without some of their key players. They are also vulnerable against the spinning deliveries, and the fact that the home team have 3 quality spinners should push them on the back foot.
Dilruwan Perera had picked up 22 wickets in the 2018 series against England, while Lasith Embuldaniya and Wanindu Hasaranga can be lethal in spin friendly conditions. The home team have a strong batting order as well, with players such as Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dinesh Chandimal.
The visitors will be weakened without Ben Stokes, Rory Burns, Jofra Archer (all missing the Test series), along with Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes (sidelined due to Covid-19). Their batting will depend a lot on Joe Root, while James Anderson, Mark Wook and spinner Jack Leach will have the onus with the ball in hand.
There is a lot of rain predicted throughout the 5 days of the game, and we will see a number of interruptions.
Pitch Report of SL vs ENG, 1st Test:
The track here will have plenty of runs on offer on the first 3 days but will slow down considerably on the last two days.
The team that wins the toss prefers batting first in Tests in the subcontinent as batting in the fourth innings is not the easiest.
SL Expected XI and Team News
The Sri Lankans will be bolstered by the return of Angelo Mathews, Sinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka, who were all injured during the Test series against South Africa.
Dimuth Karunaratne: The skipper will want to lead from the front. He has scored close to 1000 Test runs at Galle, at an average of over 51.
Dilruwan Perera: The spinner was the star when England last toured Sri Lanka, picking up 22 wickets – the highest by any bowler from either side.
Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal
ENG Expected XI and Team News
The English team will miss Rory Burns, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes (not in the squad due to various reasons), while Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes have been quarantined due to Covid-19.
Joe Root: The skipper of the team is the most experienced batsman, and will have the onus of leading from the front. He has an excellent record against the Lankans, and will be the key here.
Jack Leach: The spinner will be the X-factor in the line-up. The slower bowlers will have a huge say in the series, and Leach will be crucial, especially on the last two days.
Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (C), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Curran, Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Mark Wood, James Anderson
Head to head record of SL vs ENG:
The two teams have played each other 34 times in the history of Test cricket, with England having a superior record. They have registered 15 wins against the Lankans, while Sri Lanka have 8 wins. 11 games between the two have ended in a draw.
MPL Fantasy Prediction for SL vs ENG, 1st Test:
WK: Kusal Perera had scored 1441 runs in the last two games that he played against South Africa, and will be eager to carry forward his form. It is unclear whether Ben Foakes or Jos Buttler will be the wicket-keeper for England for the game, so it is safe to leave them out.
Batsmen: Joe Root is one of the most talented Test players of the era, with 7823 Test runs at an average of close to 48. The English team will be without a number of key batters, and Root will have to take on the onus of leading from the front. Jonny Bairtsow has more than 4000 Test runs, while Daniel Lawrence will make his debut in the game. He has over 4000 FC runs, and will be eager to latch onto his chances. Dimuth Karunaratne has an excellent record at the venue and averages close to 52, while Dinesh Chandimal has scored 721 runs at Galle at an average of 55.46.
All-rounders: Wanindu Hasaranga had picked up 4 wickets in South Africa and averaged 30.50 with the bat in hand. Dilruwan Perera had been the star when the two teams had last met in Sri Lanka, in 2018. He has a fine record at the venue, picking up 52 scalps. He can be more than handy with the bat as well.
Bowlers: Jake Leach has been exceptional in his short career thus far, picking up 34 wickets in 10 Tests thus far, with best match figures of 8 for 153. The track here will assist the slow left arm orthodox bowler, while Dom Bess is another English bowler who will find the conditions here to his liking. Suranga Lakmal has picked up 19 wickets at the venue at Galle at an average of less than 27, and rounds up our MPL fantasy team.
Captain and VC: Dilruwan Perera and Dimuth Karunaratne
Match Prediction for SL vs ENG, 1st Test:
Though England can spring a surprise, like they had in 2018, we back Sri Lanka to clinch the game, and the series, considering the fact that the conditions are better suited to their playing style.