ENGLAND TOUR OF SRI LANKA, 2018
Sri Lanka are still a team in transition, with less than a year to go to the World Cup. © Getty
Depending on which weather forecasting website or app you choose, there is anywhere between a 60% to 95% chance of rain in Dambulla on Saturday (October 13). It is monsoon season after all and following the washout of the first ODI on Wednesday after just 15 overs of play, it is likely the second game could well be curtailed too. At least there is a reserve day, unlike for the first match, but guess what? Rain is expected on Sunday, too.
When you add into the mix that the Dambulla outfield, which England captain Eoin Morgan described as “dangerous” in some parts after Wednesday’s downpour, has not had much time or sun to dry out, there could be more frustration for two sides desperate for game time with a World Cup fast approaching.
There was not much that could be gleaned from the first ODI given the short amount of play possible but Olly Stone and Liam Dawson, two bowlers trying to force their way into England’s World Cup plans, will hope for another chance after being named in the side on Wednesday, albeit without seeing any action. If there is wet weather around, however, Dawson’s place could come under threat from fast bowlers Tom or Sam Curran.
Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy will once again be looking to get England off to a solid start after passing 1,000 ODI runs together in the calendar year during their partnership of 49 in game one. Morgan may, however, point out that losing two wickets in five balls after a decent start, as England managed on Wednesday, is not something his team should be looking to repeat.
Sri Lanka, without the dropped Angelo Mathews, their best limited overs batsman and former captain, did not have much opportunity in the first match to address their recent poor form in 50-over cricket while 35 year-old Lasith Malinga made a rusty start to the series as he conceded more than seven runs an over with the new ball.
The home side is very much in transition of course – never a good thing less than a year out from the World Cup – and nobody is quite sure whether the dropping of Mathews, and the instalment of Dinesh Chandimal as captain, will have a galvanising or demoralising effect on Sri Lanka. However, given England’s lack of game time – they only had one warm-up match – there is an opportunity for the home team to catch them cold in the rest of the series.
That is, of course, if they can get on the pitch. Given the reserve day, both teams will hope that there is at least enough time over the two days to get some sort of game in before they head to Pallekele for the third and fourth matches. If they can’t, scheduling this series in monsoon season will begin to increasingly look like a blunder of significant proportions.
When: Sri Lanka vs England, 2nd ODI, October 13, 09:30 local time.
Where: Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Dambulla
What to expect: Rain. Rain. And a bit more rain. With plenty of it around Dambulla in the last few days, the pitch may have changed from the one which prompted England to play three spinners in the first match. If there is more moisture in the surface, the fast bowlers may find things to their liking but the pitch is still expected to be a good one for batting.
England are likely to be unchanged with Dawson continuing in the side, giving Morgan three spinners to work with. Provided the weather holds, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood will finally resume their new ball partnership after injury ruled the former out of all England’s 50-over matches during the summer.
Probable XI: Eoin Morgan (c), Adil Rashid, Jos Buttler (wk), Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Liam Dawson/Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Moeen Ali, Joe Root, Olly Stone
The home team are also likely to stick with the same eleven which took the field in the first match. That would also mean a three pronged spin attack of left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan and two off-spinners, Dhananjaya de Silva and Akila Dananjaya.
Probable XI: Lasith Malinga, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera, Dinesh Chandimal (c), Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan
Did you know?
– Jonny Bairstow needs five more runs to become the sixth England player to aggregate 1000 ODI runs in a calendar year.
– Sri Lanka haven’t won an ODI in Dambulla in the last three years. They’ve lost seven out of the nine matches with the other two ending in a no-result. In the 14 ODIs prior to that, they won 11 out of the 13 matches.
– Bairstow and Jason Roy have amassed 1000 runs in 2018 – the most by a pair this calendar year and the first England pair to do so in any year.