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|Dhananjaya de Silva||2.0||0||4||0||2.00|
It's been a rare sight to see a team going 1-0 up in a test series playing away from home. However, in the last week and a half, we have seen that happen twice. First, Zimbabwe toppled Bangladesh at Chittagong and then Sri Lanka lost to England at Galle. Notably, this was England's first win in their last fourteen away from home matches. They'll be looking to extend this lead and wrap-up the series when they meet Sri Lanka for the second test at Pallekele. Sri Lanka have usually done well at home in the longer format of the game and it will be interesting to see how they fare against this strong English side.
The hosts will be without two of their most experienced players, Rangana Herath and Dinesh Chandimal, and the presence of both will certainly be felt. The first test was Herath's International farewell whereas Dinesh Chandimal suffered a grade one muscle tear due to which he's likely to sit out for at least a couple of weeks.
In the absence of their regular skipper, Suranga Lakmal will don the captain's hat. Lakmal has been exceptional with the job thus far in his career. Although a fairly small sample size to infer anything, Sri Lanka have won all three tests played under his leadership and will be interesting to see how Sri Lanka fares against a team in form.
Sri Lankan batting didn't come good at Galle and they'll be hoping for an improved performance from Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, and Kaushal Silva going into the second test. Barring a little spell where Foakes was in charge, Sri Lankan bowling did well. Dilruwan Perera was the pick of their bowlers. He picked up seven crucial scalps in the last test and will be the key man with the ball for the Islanders in the second test.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis , Roshen Silva, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Akila Dananjaya, PM Pushpakumara.
England tickets almost all the boxes in the first match and continued to build onto their series win against India. There was a big threat of handling spinners looming over them prior to the start of the series which they countered with perfection.
Keaton Jennings, after having a dismal tour against Indian, proved his selection in the team to be right as he slammed unbeaten 146 runs in the second innings. However, their win was set up by the knock of Ben Foakes in the first innings due to the virtue of which they secured a first-innings lead which proved to be vital in the end.
Their spin trio of Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, and Moeen Ali picked sixteen wickets in total and were arguably better than that of Sri Lankan spinners. With batting doing reasonably well which bats deep as seen in their last six matches, it won't be easy to dismiss England regardless of the surface. With the likes of Anderson, Broad, Ali, and Rashid in their squad, they have a bowling attack that can thrive on any kind of surface. All in all, England will be a big threat to Sri Lanka yet again.
Rory Burns, KK Jennings, BA Stokes, JE Root, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, AU Rashid, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
With batting likely to become tough as the match progresses, the captain winning the toss is expected to elect to bat first.
Both the weather and surface at Pallekele is expected to be the same as Galle. There was forecast of rain at Galle, but we had five non-stop days of action and fans and teams will be hoping for the same here as well. The surface is a typical Sri Lankan wicket with lots of runs for the batsmen and plenty of assistance for spinners available.
Quite unexpectedly, English batting, as well as spinners, fared better than those of Sri Lanka in the opening test. The absence of Dinesh Chandimal and Rangana Herath will be tough to fill for the hosts whereas England looks a fairly settled unit. Considering the team on paper as well as the form of both the sides, England are firm-favorites to win this important game.