Three things Sri Lanka must do to beat England
Captain Angelo Mathews and coach Graham Ford have their work cut out to beat England this summer
England’s summer of cricket is finally here and the first team on their radar is Sri Lanka. England are no doubts favourites to win the upcoming Test series, given their form as of late and considering that they conquered a South African team filled to the brim with superstars like AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and Morne Morkel in December.
Since winning that Test series 2-1, England have not played a Test, but they are still in a better position than Sri Lanka as the Asian nation were whitewashed in their most recent Test series against New Zealand in December last year.
It is easy enough to write Sri Lanka off in the forthcoming three-Test series, but if they manage to do a number of things, there is a possibility that they can they spring a huge surprise and replicate the success they tasted in England in 2014.
1. Limit James Anderson and Stuart Broad’s impact
James Anderson and Stuart Broad - England's twin threats with the new ball
Let’s be honest, Anderson and Broad are both gifted enough to carve through any batting line-up on their day. One just has to remember how Broad bulldozed his way through the Proteas’ batsmen in the second innings of the third Test in Johannesburg in January this year. The 29-year-old not only finished with jaw-dropping figures six for 17 from 12.1 overs, but he also lit the way for England to bowl South Africa out for a dismal score of 83.
No doubt Anderson and Broad will be eager to make their presence felt against Sri Lanka, but should the tourists keep both pace maestros at bay, while maintaining a healthy run rate at the same time, there is a chance that they could get under England’s skin and put them on the back foot.
While this will be a lot easier said than done, just remember that Test cricket is a funny game and that even the impossible can happen.
2. Make high scores
Dimuth Karunaratne, who is in good form for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka will have to ensure that they put England under pressure and what better way to accomplish that than by making a huge total.
Sri Lanka definitely have batsmen that are capable of making big scores – Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne and captain Angelo Mathews are a few names that spring to mind.
Should a couple of batsmen go on to get these big scores and receive support from the rest of the batting line-up, England will find themselves under the cosh and in a world of trouble.
That being said, Sri Lanka will have to get the job done with the ball as well. Letting their standards with the ball slip and leaking runs will only hinder their prospects of victory.
3. Youngsters must step up
Kusal Mendis (right) is one youngster who needs to step and perform well
In 2014, Sri Lanka had anchors and leaders in Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene. Fast forward to today and both players have retired from international cricket. This, of course, has impacted Sri Lankan cricket, but with Sangakkara and Jayawardene having played their final innings on the international stage, it is time for the country’s young talents to stand up and shine.
In the two warm-up matches preceding the upcoming Test series, 21-year-old Kusal Mendis and 24-year-old Dasun Shanaka have already shown what they are capable of. The former struck half-centuries against Essex and Leicestershire, while the latter scored a brilliant 112 against Leicestershire.
Mendis and Shanaka’s form will be an encouraging sign for Sri Lanka and if they are able to get more of a contribution from their younger players, it will be an interesting Test series to say the least.
Overall, if Sri Lanka want to pull off another Test heist in England’s backyard, they will have to be on top of their game in all aspects and hope that their youngsters rise up to the occasion and deliver big in hostile territory.
© Cricket World 2016