England expect tough challenge from Sri Lanka in Test series | Daily News

England expect tough challenge from Sri Lanka in Test series

The England team which won the last series against Sri Lanka 3-0
The England team which won the last series against Sri Lanka 3-0

England are expecting a much bigger challenge from their Sri Lankan counterparts when the two teams clash in a two-Test series later this month, at the Galle Stadium.

The England Team arrived in Hambantota yesterday, and the series will be part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Test Championship (WTC).

The Sri Lanka-England series of course, was supposed to take place in March last year but was abandoned midway through the tourists’ warm-up game in Colombo amid the escalating situation surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

After their arrival, England will spend 10 days in a bio-secure bubble in Hambantota, although they will be able to train outside.

England will then confront Sri Lanka in the first Test from January 14 and the second Test commencing from January 22.

The last time England toured Sri Lanka they won a three-Test series 3-0 in 2018 but the England Skipper, Joe Root believes the upcoming series will be completely different.

“To win 3-0 last time round was a brilliant achievement,” Root said.

England won the opening Test by a massive margin of 211 runs at the Galle Stadium with Ben Foakes, wining the Man-of-the-Match award following his fighting century in the first innings and for a well compiled 62 in the second innings.

Root was the Player-of-the-Match in the second Test as his magnificent century in the second innings helped the visitors to complete a 57-run win at the Pallekele Stadium in Kandy and to build up an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

England then wrapped-up the series 3-0 as they went on to beat Sri Lanka by 42 runs in the third Test played at the SSC Grounds in Maitland Place.

Jonny Bairstow was named Man-of-the-Match for his splendid century in the first innings while Foakes won the Player-of-the-Series award.

“It would be a bit naïve to go in and expect the same. We've got to be smart and see what is there in front of us, and we've got to play to our strengths as a group,” Root explained.

“We're very confident that we can get two brilliant wins but also we're very mindful of the talents and challenges that Sri Lanka will throw at us,” he added.

This short series and the series against India is also really important for England as they are in contention to finish among the top two teams in the ICC World Test Championship Points Table.

In fact, this will be the last chance for England to collect the maximum points and Root said his side must ‘play out of our skin’ to reach the WTC final at Lord’s in June.

England are currently placed fourth in the ICC WTC Points Table after winning their past three series against South Africa, West Indies and Pakistan. The WTC concept, first approved by the ICC in 2010, started in 2019 and sees the nine main Test sides earn points for a win and draw with the top two ultimately reaching the final.

However, the points system has been altered for this edition, with around 15 percent of the games due to be incomplete when the tournament ends because of the Coronavirus pandemic, meaning positions will now be calculated by the percentage of points earned in completed matches.

“We'll do everything we can to get there,” said Root.

“We've just got to try and win as many of the next six Tests as possible and see where we are at the end of that. It's definitely something that we talk about.”

“We know we're not best seated at the moment and with the points structure as it is now, and us playing more Test cricket than anyone else, we've almost got to play out of our skin to get into that final,” Root stressed. England Squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) (Captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonnny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Dom Bess (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Dan Lawrence (Essex), Jack Leach (Somerset), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire) and Mark Wood (Durham).

Reserves: James Bracey (Gloucestershire), Mason Crane (Hampshire), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset), Matthew Parkinson (Lancashire), Ollie Robinson (Sussex) and Amar Virdi (Surrey).