After only 15 overs were possible in the first one-day international, we might be in for another weather-affected game in the second Sri Lanka v England fixture.
Sri Lanka v England
Rangiri International Stadium, Dambulla
Saturday, 13 October, 10.00am local time, 4.30am GMT
The first ODI, also played in Dambulla, was a damp affair. Sri Lanka won the toss, asked England to bat, did well to pick up two wickets but also conceded 92 runs in the 15 overs of play possible before rain washed away the excitement.
From the point of view of the home side hoping to lift themselves after a poor Asia Cup campaign, Lasith Malinga was expensive, going for 37 runs in his five overs, while Nuwan Pradeep and Akila Dananjaya picked up a wicket each and kept things moderately tight.
What we got to see of the English top order wasn’t disappointing either. Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy added 49 for the first wicket, both scoring 20s, while Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, the two men with the most experience in the line-up, kept things steady while they were out in the middle.
“It's extremely frustrating in the first game of the series – having played only one warm-up game, we wanted to explode and get the guys into the series,” said Morgan after the abandonment.
Back in Dambulla for the second game, the good news is that we have a reserve day, as is the case with the fifth game. Also, it's a morning start, which might help. The bad news, though, is that rain is forecast for both Saturday and Sunday, as is to be expected at this time of the year in Sri Lanka.
If there is enough action out on the field, there will be a number of things to keep an eye out for.
Sri Lanka haven’t had the best of times in the format of late, exiting in the first round at the Asia Cup 2018 after losses to Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Their batting has been the main concern, and they have omitted Angelo Mathews. Dinesh Chandimal is back, and in charge, and it will be interesting to see how he goes, both as batsman and as captain.
With Malinga and Pradeep leading the new-ball attack, there’s a lot of experience in the ranks, while the spin department, as usual, is well stocked.
England, on the other hand, are where one would expect the top team in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings to be – in their most recent ODI series, against India at home, England emerged victorious by a 2-1 margin.
Root and Morgan were in good form then, and looked in fine fettle in the first game here, as was the case with Bairstow and Roy. With the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 not too far away, how the many all-rounders go will also be a matter of interest: Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, the spinners, and all of Tom Curran, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes, the faster men. Not to forget Olly Stone, the very fast 25-year-old from Warwickshire; he made his debut in the first game, but didn’t have much to do.
Two teams with a big gulf between them in the rankings chart – Sri Lanka are No.8 – but in the island nation, the toughest teams have found the going tricky in the past. If there is play, this should be fun.
Dinesh Chandimal (Sri Lanka): He missed the Asia Cup through injury and the home series against South Africa because of a disciplinary issue. He will want to make a mark quickly, and that will be key for Sri Lanka, whose batting has been iffy of late.
Eoin Morgan (England): Morgan said the other day that he will happily drop himself from England’s XI if it helps the team, but looking at his performances over the years, his presence is likely to help the team more. He looked good in the little time out in the first game, and if he gets a chance, he’ll want to get a big one to get going.
Rain, rain, and more rain – that’s Dambulla at the moment. If it relents for long enough, there should be plenty of joy for the batsmen as well as the spinners, with even the fast bowlers getting a little bit of help in patches.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Upul Tharanga, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Kusal Perera
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett (last two games only), Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
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