England vs Sri Lanka 2nd T20I Preview: Semblance of opportunity for SL as England look to rest frontline pacers
Both teams will look to make a couple of changes to their playing XI with a gap of less than 24 hours between the two T20Is.
Gulf between the two teams
This is what you get when the number 1 ranked team, and by some distance at that, faces the number 8 ranked team in the ICC T20I rankings.
The opening match between Sri Lanka and England was always expected to be a mismatch and this is exactly how it turned out. The gulf between the two sides was further accentuated by the fact that England are in the middle of the T20 Blast season and most of their players have decent match practice under their belt.
Cardiff surface adds to SL's woes
Sri Lanka on the other hand have only played a couple of intra-squad games after undergoing quarantine and completely looked out of sorts. It did not help them that the pitch in Cardiff was not the easiest for batting, with the ball stopping in the surface.
Most of the Sri Lankan batsmen are very good at the cut and the pull and on a true surface, which provides them with pace and bounce, can surprise the opposition. However, with the variety of options that England captain Eoin Morgan had up his sleeve and with some assistance from the surface, Sri Lanka were clearly found wanting in the 1st T20I.
Batting first, there was a period of 10 overs when Sri Lanka did not hit any boundary and managed to hit just 3 sixes throughout the match. These are not stats that help you win matches against the number 1 ranked team in their own backyard.
Kusal Perera held the innings together for sometime, making 30 off 26 balls at a strike rate of 115.38 after Avishka Fernando was dismissed for a duck. Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva were dismissed quickly.
Dasun Shanaka too did not look comfortable particularly against Mark Wood to begin with and took a lot of time before finally cutting loose. The 50-run knock off 44 balls from the medium pace bowling all rounder at a strike rate of 113.64 meant that Sri Lanka set England a target of 130.
But, even with the pitch being a bit tricky, such a below par total was never going to prove enough for the reigning ODI champions.
Sam Curran and Rashid among the wickets
Sam Curran and Adil Rashid picked up two wickets each for England. It was intriguing that Adil Rashid, who was entrusted with the ball in the powerplay in England's last T20 series against India, was held back till the 12th over by Morgan. Rashid proved to be a handful for the Sri Lankan batsmen as the leggie conceded only 17 runs from his four overs at 4.20.
Chris Woakes was also quite miserly, conceding just 14 runs from his three overs. It is shocking that a player of Woakes' quality made a return to the England T20 XI after more than five years, having played his last T20 International against Pakistan at Sharjah. He certainly did his T20 World Cup prospects no harm.
With back-to-back T20I matches, England might look to rest a couple of their pacers as skipper Eoin Morgan hinted in the post match presentation. Mark Wood is certainly one bowler who will be rested with Tom Curran likely to take his place. David Willey might come in for Sam Curran.
The Sri Lankan bowling failed to make an impact with Jos Buttler taking the attack to them with 68 of 55 balls. Jason Roy also made 36 of 22 balls.
Onus on Hasaranga
Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga were the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers, giving away runs at 7.60 and 3.00 respectively.
Nuwan Pradeep and Akila Dananjaya were very expensive and can get the axe, with tall pacer Binura Fernando and spinner Lakshan Sandakan taking their place respectively. If the Sri Lankan batters are successful in posting a decent score on the board, Wanindu Hasaranga may just turn out to be the trump card for the visitors.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
Sri Lanka - Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera (c & wk), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando
England - Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (c), Liam Livingstone, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Tom Curran
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