Sri Lanka vs England: Rare away whitewash the target for Joe Root at SSC
Joe Root's England are targeting a 3-0 sweep at the SSC. @AFP

Their long wait for an overseas Test series victory over, Joe Root s England are targeting a series whitewash in the final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, which gets underway on Friday, as they plot their return to No 1.

England hold an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series after Jack Leach s five-wicket haul starred in the second Test as the visitors stormed to a 57-run victory at Pallekele, and will move to No 2 in the ICC rankings irrespective of what happens at the SSC.

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Victory in the second Test was England s first series triumph away from home since early 2016. In that time, they drew 1-1 in Bangladesh, lost the Ashes in Australia and were then beaten by New Zealand, their low highlighted by a total of 58 all out in Auckland. Now, remarkably, Root s team is actually looking at a 3-0 sweep of Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka have been depleted by the retirement of Rangana Herath and another injury setback for Dinesh Chandimal, who will not play at the SSC. Yet this is a team that beat South Africa 2-0 this summer, Pakistan 2-0 in the UAE last year and whitewashed Australia 3-0 in 2016, so there is some quality around.

But defeats in Galle and Pallekele have hurt the hosts, who now need to win the Colombo Test to avert their second whitewash since India toured in 2017. Sri Lanka depart for New Zealand on December 4 for a two-Test series, after which they play in Australia and later South Africa in February.

Date: November 23

Venue: Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo

Time: 10:00am IST

Weather: Scattered thunderstorms

Team News

Sri Lanka

With Chandimal out, Danushka Gunathilaka has been recalled to the squad and the uncapped Charith Asalanka has been released. Gunathilaka was impressive in his Test outings this year before he was suspended for breaking a curfew in the middle of a Test. He could slot straight back in alongside Dimuth Karunaratne after Kaushal Silva s struggles.

Danushka Gunathilaka looks set to return as Test opener.
Danushka Gunathilaka looks set to return as Test opener. AFP

Roshen Silva will bat at Chandimal s place as he did at Pallekele.

With Akila Dhananjaya in Australia having his action tested, Lakshan Sandakan should step in for his 11th Test match unless the management hands a debut to the uncapped Nishan Peries.

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

England

Jonny Bairstow is back for his first match of the series since he twisted an ankle during the ODIs, taking the place of Sam Curran who has a side strain. Bairstow will bat at No 3. Ben Foakes will continue to keep wickets.

Jonny Bairstow is back and will bat at No 3
Jonny Bairstow is back and will bat at No 3. (AFP Photo)

James Anderson has been rested for the first time since 2012, with Stuart Broad getting his first Test of the tour at the venue where he made his debut in 2007.

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

Statistics

– In 44 Test matches dating back to 1984, Sri Lanka have only lost eight times at the SSC. Since 2004, they have only been beaten there by India, in 2015 and 2017.

– At the SSC, England have lost two, won one and draw one Test.

– Broad needs two wickets to surpass Kapil Dev s 434 and move to seventh in the all-time list.

– Ben Stokes needs 133 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 Stuart Broad.

Quotes

“We want to get to No 1 in the world at some point and we are going to have to be really consistent in all parts of the world to do that.” – Root