England vs Sri Lanka 2nd ODI Preview: Sri Lanka need a miracle to avoid another one-sided defeat
Losing three players due to breach of COVID-19 protocols has further hamstrung an already weak Sri Lankan side.
Several first-choice SL players unavailable
Sri Lanka were hardly any match for the defending ODI World Champions England, but in the 1st ODI, they had various mitigating factors. The visitors were unable to pick as many as six first-choice players in this match.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis have been suspended due to bio bubble breach after they went towards the Durham City Centre and have been flown back to Sri Lanka. Avishka Fernando is nursing a quadriceps injury and is not available for the series.
Off spin bowling all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva is also injured while Oshada Fernando was unavailable for the match due to illness.
This left Sri Lanka with 3 debutants, 3 players who had played just one ODI and one player with an experience of six ODIs in Pathum Nissanka. Nissanka opened the batting but could not push on and was out off a soft dismissal.
3 players in the Sri Lankan XI of the 1st ODI had an experience of 20 odd ODIs. There's only one player in the XI with more than 100 one day internationals under his belt - Kusal Perera. For perspective, Eoin Morgan has played 244 ODIs by himself.
Many absentees for England as well
England, too, are without many of their main players. Both openers Jos Buttler and Jason Roy are out injured. Ben Stokes, after having recovered from his finger injury, has been featuring in the T20 Vitality Blast but was not considered for this series. Jofra Archer is recovering after undergoing an elbow injury.
Dawid Malan, who was set to open the batting with Jonny Bairstow, pulled out due to personal reasons. England had to make do with a strange batting order which had Liam Livingstone opening with Jonny Bairstow.
The team had only five specialist batsmen with Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes and David Willey making up for an extra batsman with their all-round ability.
That is why when England suddenly found themselves at 80/4 after theopeners added 54, England were certainly under some pressure.
Sri Lanka suffer another batting collapse
Earlier, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 185. After suffering three quick dismissals within the first nine overs, Sri Lanka were under a lot of pressure. However, a 99-run partnership between Wanindu Hasaranga and Kusal Perera steadied the ship.
At 145/3 in the 29th over, Sri Lanka were poised for a decent total. But, another collapse did not help their cause as they were bowled out for 185.
Woakes and Willey star
Chris Woakes honed in on the perfect line and length after his first two overs. In conditions that were offering something to the swing bowlers, he picked four wickets while giving away just 18 runs from his 10 overs. Woakes bowled 5 maiden overs, including 3 wicket maiden overs and sported an economy rate of 1.80.
David Willey was also right on the money, taking three wickets while conceding 44 runs from his 10 overs. In reply, Jonny Bairstow got England to a blistering start, blasting 43 off just 21 balls.
Sri Lankan bowlers fight back
But, once he and Liam Livingstone were dismissed in quick succession, wickets of Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings followed. Moeen Ali should have been caught by Kusal Perera off Dushmantha Chameera as well but after he got a reprieve, Joe Root and Ali took England close to victory.
Ali was dismissed with England just 15 short of reaching the target. Root, who struck a silky 79 not out off 87 balls, then finished the formalities alongside Sam Curran to take England to a five-wicket victory.
Options on the bench
Sri Lanka have Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando and Akila Dananjaya on the bench and may get a chance in the remaining two matches of the series.
England, on the other hand, have the option of giving game time to Tom Curran, Liam Dawson or George Garton. But, with the unpredictable Eoin Morgan in charge, you never know who will rest and who will play in the 2nd ODI.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
England - Jonny Bairstow (wk), Liam Livingstone, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
Sri Lanka - Kusal Perera (c & wk), Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Praveen Jayawickrama
© Cricket World 2021