Sri Lanka vs England 2021 2nd Test Preview: Hosts likely to bounce back hard after Root heroics
England have now won five consecutive test matches in Sri Lanka which will certainly give them added confidence to aim for a clean sweep.
England take advantage of Sri Lanka's brain fade
The home side had no one but themselves to blame for their capitulation in the first innings. Having won the toss and batting first on a surface at Galle which was the best for batting on days one and two, Sri Lanka threw the initiative away. Some of the shots played by the batsman suggested as if they were still on the spicy pitches of South Africa and were trying to score as quickly as possible before one ball had their name on it.
They showed good application in the second innings and laid out the template to bat in these conditions. The hosts will be ruing the fact that the resolve from their batsmen came one innings too late.
England, to their credit, cashed in to take a massive first innings lead after they lost both their openers Jak Crawley and Dom Sibley early. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow mixed attack and caution in brilliant proportion to take on the Sri Lankan bowling line up.
Jonny Bairstow could not make the most of a start but Joe Root kept breaching one milestone after the other. He had a brilliant partnership with debutant Daniel Lawrence who looked gold for his 73 runs at the crease. The Essex batsman batted for 150 deliveries and showed glimpses of the things to come.
Joe Root was finally dismissed on the last ball of the innings on 228 off 321 deliveries, having hit 18 fours and one six while batting at a strike rate of over 70.
Sri Lanka did a good job with Lahiru Thirimanne and Kusal Perera getting stuck in their second innings. Angelo Mathews was also vigilant for his 219-ball 71, but they had been pushed far too back in the game after the first innings.
However, Sri Lanka ensured that the 74-run chase for them in the last innings was not a walk in the park with the visitors losing three wickets for just 14. Bairstow and Lawrence then took the team home but not before Lasith Embuldeniya threatened to spoil their party.
England breach the Lankan fortress repeatedly
This was England's fifth consecutive victory in Sri Lanka after their clean sweep in their last series. They have now won both their last two test matches at Galle which is commendable given that the Galle International Stadium is a fortress for the home side.
Sri Lanka have played 34 matches at the venue and have won 19 of them and lost 9 while 6 games have ended in a draw.
What SL need to do differently
Sri Lanka have all the ingredients to draw level in the series. In fact, they should have been far more competitive in the first match as well after winning the toss and the Sri Lankan spinners looking good, but their batsmen were on a suicidal mission. Who knows what could have happened if they had only taken a bit more time and batted properly.
They will have a good chance of pulling this one back as spinners Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera and Lasith Embuldeniya will be a handful on this pitch, provided the hosts can put runs on the board.
Will Moeen Ali make the cut?
Moeen Ali, who had initially tested positive for COVID-19 upon landing in Sri Lanka, had to be isolated for 13 days. He joined the England bubble and has also started training. However, it will take a toll on his body after having taken a roundtrip from Hambantota to Galle for his quarantine. With the lack of training as well, he would need to be at the top of his fitness to be included in the playing XI.
However, given how the pitch played in the first test match, England will do everything to have Moeen back on the park. In case, he is fit and good to go, he is likely to replace Mark Wood who could not make a big impression in the first game. James Anderson should come in for Broad as part of the rest and rotation policy.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
Sri Lanka - Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Oshada Fernando, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando
England - Zak Crawley, Dominic Sibley, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (c), Daniel Lawrence, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, James Anderson
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