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Sri Lanka vs England 1st Test Preview + Dream11

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

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Ahead of England’s tour of Sri Lanka, most fans had their eye on this Test series.

England’s success in the limited overs matches was almost a given the respective form of either side over the last couple of years. Despite the rain, England still managed to win four of the five completed matches to head into the Test series in winning form.
However, as Sri Lanka have shown over the last year, Test Cricket is a whole different ball game. In what will be the great Rangana Herath’s last Test at his beloved Galle, England’s toughest test of the tour is undoubtedly here.
Will the rain relent and allow for a result?

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Sri Lanka’s ODI form since the start of 2017 has been well documented, but their Test form is cause for encouragement. Along with their 2-0 win over South Africa in July, Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh 1-0 away, drew in West Indies, drew two Tests in India and beat Pakistan 2-0 in the UAE since October last year. In Rangana Herath’s last ever Test, will Sri Lanka send him out a winner?

The post-Alastair Cook era begins with a tricky test for England. Rain has ruined their preparation, and their away form in Tests, unlike ODIs, makes for sorry reading. In fact, you would have to go back over two years for their last win away from home. Their tight, thrilling 22-run win over Bangladesh in October 2016 was indeed their last, embarking on a 13-match winless run that has included 4-0 drubbings at the hands of India and Australia. With quite a few new faces in the side, can England go a long way to improving their away form, and spoil the farewell party for Rangana Herath?

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Key to a Sri Lanka win

England are about to embark on a trial by spin. With a turning track sure to await the Sri Lankan spinners, will the home side be relentless enough to make the first 20-30 balls of every England batsman a tough foray into their innings?

There is no doubt that this period for visiting batsmen in subcontinent is the toughest, so maintaining the pressure is vital for the Sri Lankans. The likes of Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera in particular will be keen to bowl at one batsman for a prolonged period of time, and the support bowlers also have to be on song to not let England off the hook.

Sri Lanka’s bowlers arguably provide the best avenue for victory, but that doesn’t mean the batsmen are without responsibility. Dimuth Karunaratne was simply superb in the recent series against South Africa, and Sri Lanka will be keen for him to anchor the innings once again, paving the way for strong partnerships involving the likes of Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews. England will embark on these Tests with positive spirits, but runs on the board for Sri Lanka will make the tourists’ task all the more challenging.

Key to an England win

Alastair Cook leaves a huge role in the batting department, especially considering his phenomenal record in Asia. Cook leaves behind 2,710 runs in Asia, at an average of over 53, and what is even more challenging for England is that they have yet to replace Andrew Strauss. Keaton Jennings will get another chance, and simply has to rediscover the form of his debut Test, along with Rory Burns who gets his deserved chance at Test level.
However, Joe Root holds the biggest key for England. He finally broke his century drought in the final Test against India in September, and England will need the same from him in conditions that will challenge his side. With Jonny Bairstow, who was solid in India in 2016, missing through injury, the batsmen need to ensure they don’t overthink things, and focus on playing the line of the ball. 
On the bowling front, England have struggled badly for penetration away from home. The proof in the pudding is that in their run of 13 winless matches, they have lost three times by an innings after scoring 400+ in the first innings. To stand a chance in the match, spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid need to display the kind of control and penetration not associated with them away from home. Of course, as always, James Anderson and Stuart Broad are vital to the cause, and need to extract as much movement, especially in the air, as possible.

Possible XIs

Sri Lanka’s opening combination of Danuskha Gunathilaka and Dimuth Karunaratne was solid against South Africa, but a change is required with Gunathilaka still injured. Kaushal Silva will likely come into the side. Also, Dinesh Chandimal returns to Tests after missing the South Africa series through suspension.
Sri Lanka possible XI: 1. Dimuth Karunaratne, 2. Kaushal Silva, 3. Dhananjaya de Silva, 4. Kusal Mendis, 5. Dinesh Chandimal (c), 6. Angelo Mathews, 7. Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8. Dilruwan Perera, 9. Rangana Herath, 10. Suranga Lakmal, 11. Akila Dananjaya 
Lots of changes await England. There is no more Alastair Cook, and Jonny Bairstow will miss the first Test as a result of an ankle injury picked up playing football. The make up of the side is still yet to be decided, with Ben Foakes a chance of debuting, and Jack Leach a possibility of making the side with his left-arm spin.
England possible XI: 1. Keaton Jennings, 2. Rory Burns, 3. Joe Denly/Ben Foakes 4. Joe Root (c), 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Jos Buttler (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Adil Rashid, 9. Stuart Broad/Sam Curran, 10. Jack Leach/Chris Woakes, 11. James Anderson

Dream11

Spin to win? Below is my Dream11 team, with a few pointers.
Sri Lanka vs England 1st Test Preview + Dream11 Cricket Blog CricBlog Cricket Preview
  • A big test awaits Jos Buttler, but he enjoys the responsibility of being keeper-batsman. He is in my side.

  • Joe Root and Dimuth Karunaratne are important picks with the bat, along with Dinesh Chandimal. I am backing Rory Burns to impress on debut.
  • I have gone with six spinners in total, with Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to do lots of bowling for England.
  • Rangana Herath is my captain in his final ever Test.

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Stats and Facts

  • Since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath has taken 359 Test wickets at 25.98. He was 32 when Murali retired.
  • England are winless in their last 13 away Tests.
  • Sri Lanka have won six, drawn four and lost just two of their last 12 Tests.

Prediction

It is a big ask for England to win in these conditions.
I believe they still lack the ingredients with the ball to win in the subcontinent, and for that reason, I will back Sri Lanka to send out Rangana Herath on a high (if the weather holds).
Thanks for reading!

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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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