Trailing 0-1 despite an impressive second-innings fightback, Sri Lanka will be desperate for a victory when they take on England in the final Test in Galle, starting Friday, 22 January.
Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test
Galle International Stadium, Galle
22 January to 26 January 2021; 10am local time, 4.30am GMT
If Sri Lanka are to achieve that objective, they’ll need more consistency in their batting. In the first Test, their combustion for 135 in the first-innings cost them the match, despite their commendable fightback in the second innings, when they posted 359.
Five players including Kusal Mendis have been released and will head home, with Dinesh Chandimal continuing to Captain the team in the 2nd test match, as well. This will put the spotlight on the young and highly-rated Oshada Fernando currently waiting in the wings.
They will also hope Suranga Lakmal, who has been nursing a hamstring problem, has recovered and gained enough match fitness to be in contention for this one.
England made one change as well, although for altogether different reasons. England are set to play India in a marquee four-Test series shortly after the ongoing matches in Sri Lanka, and their management will be mindful of the need to rest their players – it meant on the eve of the match, England announced their playing XI, with Jimmy Anderson being brought in, in place of Stuart Broad.
England Test XI: Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Jonathan Bairstow, Joe Root (captain), Dan Lawrence, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, Mark Wood, James Anderson.
Despite that, spin will remain the key weapon for both sides in this Test, especially with the pitch expected to be drier than in the first Test.
Remember the last time:
Sri Lanka opted to bat but were dismantled by England, with Stuart Broad making the early inroads before Dom Bess took a 5/30 to bundle out the home side for 135. The collapse would prove costly as England, led by captain Joe Root’s 228, posted a daunting 421 in their first innings.
Sri Lanka fought back in the second innings, a century from Lahiru Thirimanne, and half-centuries from Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews helping the side to 359. However, given their lowly first-innings effort, England merely had to chase 74 to win. They did wobble, losing three wickets, but the visitors came through for a seven-wicket win.
What they said:
Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka batsman: "It's not about being conservative. You always have to look to score runs. But you need to understand how you can score runs off these bowlers and in these conditions."
Joe Root, England captain: "These tours and these games are all about winning but the experience you get can really benefit you further in your career if you have the right attitude and go about it in the right manner.”
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