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England v Sri Lanka Second Test, Durham – Preview

Both teams face injury concerns ahead of the second Test at Chester-le-Street, where the home side will hope to wrap up series win

England v Sri Lanka Second Test, Durham – Preview - Cricket News
James Anderson picked up 10 wickets in the first Test.
After completing victory by an innings and 88 runs in the first Test of the three-match series against Sri Lanka, England is eager to keep the momentum going and wrap things up at Chester-le-Street in the second match starting on Friday (May 27).  

At Headingley, Sri Lanka struggled to play in conditions favourable to seam bowlers, as James Anderson and Stuart Broad picked up 14 wickets. The visiting side's technique will again be tested when the teams meet in Durham.

A win for Alastair Cook's side will not only give it the series, but will leave it with Pakistan as the only team to whom it has conceded a rubber. The record could yet be corrected when Pakistan comes for a four-match series later in the summer. Only Australia and South Africa have had Test series wins against the other nine Test-playing nations at a stretch, and Broad was keen that England become the third team to do so.

“With a Test series up for grabs we are on it and our aim is to have all nine Test trophies and we can make it eight this week,” said Broad. “I think Australia and South Africa have done it before. It is not something that has been done a huge amount, so it would be a huge achievement and we are desperate to do that.”

Even as he was eyeing a legacy, Broad believed England's performance at Headingley was not complete.

Put in to bat, England found Dasun Shanaka’s seam bowling tough to handle and was reduced to 83 for 5. It fell upon Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow to resurrect the innings through a sixth-wicket stand of 141 runs. Once Hales was dismissed for 86, Bairstow lacked support to continue the good work. He made 140 and was the ninth wicket to fall as England was kept to 298.

After that, Anderson returned career-best match-figures of 10 for 45, Sri Lanka being bundled out for 91 and 119 in its two innings for the game to be over in three days.

Aware that there are some concerns to address, Broad said there would be no drop in intensity. "Obviously the series is still up for grabs and I think one thing we've probably been average at is in the last Test of the series when we've won, I'm thinking Centurion and The Oval," he said of a defeat to South Africa earlier this year and last year's Ashes-ending reverse against Australia.

Both teams have injury concerns to deal with. Chris Woakes, who has played six Tests, was called up to replace an injured Ben Stokes and is likely to be the one change in the playing XI. He celebrated his call-up with figures of 9 for 36 for Warwickshire in Durham’s second innings in the County Championship.

England could also hand a debut to Jake Ball, the pacer, who has taken 28 wickets in seven first-class matches this season. 

Sri Lanka too will have to make an enforced change, with Suranga Lakmal set to replace the injured Dushmantha Chameera.

Angelo Mathews's side, still in a rebuilding stage after the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, will want its top order to do better. Kusal Mendis's second-innings fifty was the highlight for it, and with more grey skies forecast, the batsmen could be in for a challenging time again.

"I think we're getting used to these conditions. We just have to cope with them," said Niroshan Dickwella, hoping to force his way into the side. "Headingley was a bad Test for us, and we're hoping to come back here."

England, for its part, isn't getting complacent. Said Nick Compton, “I think we’re a team that feels confident but realise we’ve got another Test on our hands – and every Test is tough.”

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