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England has arrived in Sri Lanka as the best ODI side in the world and easily being billed as one of the favorites for the ICC World Cup 2019 to be held in England next year. They are missing a few players due to injury but their talent pool is so deep at the moment that hardly anyone is going to notice. The last time England traveled to Sri Lanka, they were thrashed 5-2. Things have changed since then, though, especially for Sri Lanka.
The home team is going through another crisis of leadership as Angelo Mathews has been sacked from the captaincy and dropped from the side altogether. Sri Lanka crashed out of the Asia Cup losing to Bangladesh and Afghanistan convincingly we think it is safe to say they are at an all-time low right now.
Can home conditions provide them the boost to upset a superb England team?
The ICC World Cup 2019 is just a few months away and every single team is trying to lock down its final few places. Not Sri Lanka, though, because the chaos in which it is right now puts it no closer to finding out who its first choice squad should be.
Angelo Mathews has been the highest scorer for Sri Lanka in ODI cricket over the last year, he also top-scored in the last series against South Africa, but he is not in the squad. Kusal Mendis, heralded as the next batting great from Sri Lanka, has been dropped from the team again.
This means that new players (or previously discarded ones) will be vying for places in a reshuffled batting order. Not the ideal way for a team to be so close to the World Cup.
It is not wise to count Sri Lanka out completely, though. They are a different team at home and can punch above their weight. They know England will be tested against spin and will try to play in conditions that suit the slower bowlers.
Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya are both wrist-spinners that can spin the ball either way. Put them on a helpful surface against a team that can get the jitters against spin and we could see things even out considerably.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Amila Aponos are also capable spin bowlers while Lasith Malinga showed he was getting back to his best in the recent Asia Cup. The presence of all-rounders like Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka in the side also lends it a lot of balance.
The real challenge for Sri Lanka, though, will be to match England on the batting front.
Dinesh Chandimal, the skipper, has to lead from the front and be the consistent performer for his side in the middle order. Niroshan Dickwella can attack up front while other players like Dhananjaya de Silva, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, and Dasun Shanaka need to perform consistently as well.
These are good players that just need to hit some form and find some consistency. Playing in home conditions will give them the best chance of doing that and so Sri Lanka may not be the walk-over that England expects them to be.
WU Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, N Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan.
Is there any side in the world that is so blessed with options for every single place in its side as England is? We don’t think so. England is going to be missing David Willey and Liam Plunkett, both of them ODI regulars, for this series and probably not even know.
Sam Curran and Ollie Pole have replaced these two players in a like for like replacement as England brings over its full-strength side to Sri Lanka.
Led by Eoin Morgan, England is a very different side to the one that was thrashed 5-2 here in 2014. For one thing, the England batting is very strong and going to come at the Sri Lankan bowing hard. If the conditions are flat and good for batting, England automatically gets an advantage before even the first ball is bowled.
Jason Roy has done very well in the IPL and the conditions he faces will be somewhat similar. Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, and Alex Hales are all very good ODI batsmen.
Root scored two hundreds in his last two matches against India and his role as the accumulator in the middle is going to be very important. We are backing him to be the player to watch out for in this series.
England’s all-rounders have been the difference between them and the other teams around the world because it gives them an unmatched balance in both the batting and bowling side of things. Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, and maybe Sam Curran could all play in the same side. That is three genuine bowlers with a genuine capability to bat as well.
Add Moeen Ali, and Adil Rashid to the mix and there is basically no one in this England side that cannot bat.
The surfaces will dictate the final eleven selected but we expect two spinners to play throughout and England to maybe rotate their fast bowlers as the series progresses.
England is the world's top-ranked side in ODI cricket for a reason and they will be very disappointed not to crush Sri Lanka in this series.
JJ Roy, Jonny Bairstow, JE Root, Eoin Morgan, BA Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, CR Woakes, LA Dawson, AU Rashid, Olly Stone.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first because of the threat of rain around
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The current weather forecast for the match is for a chance of light showers but mostly dry throughout. This is perhaps the only day in the week with such an encouraging forecast and this is why we are afraid it might be too good to be true. There has been a lot of rain around and that would have impacted the pitch, the ground, as well as the teams in their preparation.
Typically, the wicket is good for batting and offers a little of help to the spinners. A score of around 280 should be seen as par.
England has dominated recent matches against Sri Lanka but their record in Sri Lanka is not too good. This series, though, gives the England side a perfect chance to put the nightmare of their last tour to rest.
Back England to win.
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