2nd Test: ‘Fantastic’ England eye rare away series win over depleted Sri Lanka
Joe Root will bid to become the first England captain to win a Test series in Sri Lanka since 2001.@AFP

A famous win in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle ended a 13-match winless streak away from home for England and has put Joe Root in the unfamiliar position of trying to become the first England captain to win a Test series in Sri Lanka since 2001.

Victory by 211 runs in the series opener was England’s first in overseas Tests since October 2016, and was headlined by a stunning debut from the Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes and eight wickets to Moeen Ali. Root termed the selection dilemma in Galle as the ‘hardest’ of his captaincy career, and dropping Stuart Broad for a third spinner in Jack Leach proved bold and worthwhile for the left-armer took five wickets, including three big scalps on the final day as England surged to a huge win.

England’s coach Trevor Bayliss echoed Root in terming the team as a “fantastic position to be in” regarding selection for the second Test, and the skipper on Monday confirmed that Foakes would keep wickets and that Jos Buttler would bat at No 3 instead of Moeen. All signs, then, that Jonny Bairstow  will sit this one out.

Sri Lanka will be without the retired Rangana Herath, who bowed out with 433 Test wickets, and regular captain Dinesh Chandimal who suffered a groin staring during the Galle game. Suranga Lakmal will lead, and has the tough task of delivering as the leader of the bowling attack and skipper of a flagging team that needs a win to keep the series alive.

Rain is forecast on four of the five days of the Test, which once again brings team selection into detailed focus. It worked well for England in Galle, where rain threaten to have a say, and once more it appears that spin is the way forward.

Date: November 14

Venue: Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy

Time: 10:00am IST

Weather: Scattered thunderstorms

Team News

Sri Lanka 

With Chandimal out, Charith Asalanka comes into the Sri Lanka squad but it is unlikely that he will get a debut. The squad already includes Roshen Silva, who has a century and three fifties in eight Tests. Herath’s place looks set to go to the slow left-armer Malinda Pushpakumara who played two Tests against India in 2017.

Malinda Pushpakumara should slot in for the retired Rangana Herath
Malinda Pushpakumara should slot in for the retired Rangana Herath. © AFP

Akila Dananjaya’s action has been called into question, and seeing as he is eligible to play at Pallekele the skipper Lakmal has said he will play.*

Probable XI: 1 Dimuth Karunaratne, 2 Kaushal Silva, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dhananjaya de Silva, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Roshen Silva, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Akila Dananjaya, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Malinda Pushpakumara, 11 Suranga Lakmal (capt)

England

Having not won a Test match overseas for so long, there will be the temptation to play the same XI. Bairstow featured in every Test England have played since midway through the 2015 Ashes until injury ruled him out in Galle, and as harsh as it would be given his performances since then, he may have to wait a game more. Moeen will drop down the order after making 0 and 3 at No 3, a position he has struggled to adapt at.

Ben Foakes will be next to impossible to drop for the Kandy Test
Ben Foakes has been rewarded for a stellar debut by playing in the Kandy Test. © AFP

Probable XI: 1 Keaton Jennings, 2 Rory Burns, 3 Joe Root (capt), 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Jos Buttler, 6 Ben Foakes (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Sam Curran, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Jack Leach, 11 James Anderson

Statistics

– Sri Lanka have won just one of six Tests at Pallekele, losing two and drawing thrice.

– With Herath now retired, Dilruwan Perera is Sri Lanka’s most successful active wicket-taker in Tests with 132 from 32 games.

– With 76 Test caps, Angelo Mathews is the most experienced Sri Lankan player. The next most-capped player of this squad is Lakmal with 50.

– Ben Stokes needs 152 runs to get to 3000 in Tests. If he gets there, he will be the seventh England allrounder to do so after Wally Hammond, Ian Botham, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Tony Greig and Broad.

Quotes

“We’ve come to Sri Lanka to win this tour. And in these conditions, I think Ben is the best option behind the stumps.” – Root

 

* This article has been updated to include confirmation that Dhananjaya will play the second Test.