England v Sri Lanka
Tuesday 29 June 11.30
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Malan called up
Jos Buttler has been ruled out of the ODI series with a calf injury. It gives Sam Billings the opportunity to nail down a regular spot, with or without the gloves.
Jonny Bairstow, expected to reprise his opening combination with Jason Roy, could also keep but Billings was vying for a middle-order berth even before Buttler’s injury. The Kent man, who has said England’s white-ball team is the hardest to get into in the world (not sure who else he’s tried to play for), managed a rapid fifty on his last appearance – defeat by Australia in Manchester last year. He was subsequently left out in England’s 2-1 loss to India.
Dawid Malan has been called up to add batting cover but he may struggle to get a chance. Liam Livingstone, who could be used as a sixth bowler, is ahead of him in the queue. Joe Root should return to bat at No 3. Chris Woakes, Sam Curran and Mark Wood could be the pace trio while George Garton has also been added to the squad. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are unavailable.
Possible XI Roy, Bairstow, Root, Livingstone, Morgan, Billings, Moeen, S Curran, Woakes, Rashid, Wood
Sri Lanka further depleted
Sri Lanka have lost Avishka Fernando, their highly-rated young batter, for the series to injury and Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis are suspended. The trio breached the buddle and are set to fly home.
It further limits Sri Lankan batting ability which came up woefully short in the T20 series with scores of 91, 111 and 129. Avishka and Mendis are at Nos 2 and 3 on Sri Lanka’s top runs charts over the last two years. Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando and Kusal Perera are their best options up front. Batting all-rounder Charith Asalanka may be asked to make his debut. Perera will have to keep wicket with Dickwella and Mendis the specialist glovemen.
There is, of course, no Angleo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal or Lasith Malinga. Wanindu Hasaranga remains the main man with the ball and his spin should continue to cause England problems. Right-arm quick Dushmantha Chameera was excellent in the T20 series and he has 11 wickets in his last five ODI.
Possible XI Nissanka, O Fernando, Perera, Dhananjaya, Asalanka, Shanaka, Udana, Hasaranga, Sandakan, Chameera, Pradeep
The Riverside has been pretty good for batting in ODI. More than 300 has been busted three times in the last four.
England are the No 2 team in the world for speed of rungetting in the last two years, a smidge behind India with an average strike rate of 95.4. Sri Lanka are actually not too bad at No 5, ahead of West Indies and New Zealand. But it’s all about how many England can get. The two teams are actually slap bang next to each other (third and fourth of the top eight Test-playing nations) on the bowling economy rankings, England at 5.31 and Sri Lanka 5.38.
In the last two years England have batted first six times and busted 320 twice. Expanding the study to three years for more information, they have busted 320 eight times out of 16 with an average run rate of 6.39. The runs line with England batting first should be expected to settle at around the 322-325 mark, then. Going over is hardly a risk with England batting first. But if it’s pumped up to the 340s we’re unlikely to play.
As for Lanka the World Cup of 2019 is a decent guide. In six first innings they passed 230 three times. Totals of 136 and 201 against New Zealand and Afghanistan at Cardiff and the 203 at Chester-le-Street versus South Africa particularly notable. They did manage 338 against West Indies, though, there, too. If they bat first the runs line could be around 220-225. But it could be shrewd to take minimal risks laying 200, 210 or 220 or more.
Speaking of the World Cup, let’s not forget that Sri Lanka beat England to put their progress in the tournament in jeopardy. England failed to chase 232 as they were bowled out for 212. Malinga, however, was the man who did the damage with four wickets. Mathews, too, made 85 while it will be a sore point that Avishka and Mendis were also in the runs.
We can’t see an upset this time, however. England are 1.121/8 and Sri Lanka 8.6015/2. There is room in the latter price for a trade but you are relying on a fast start with bat or ball by the visitors to get a foothold.
When England amassed 305 to beat New Zealand in the World Cup it was Bairstow who won man of the match. He smashed 106. He could go well again. Bairstow didn’t impress in the T20s but it’s hard to argue he’s out of nick given what he was doing in the Blast. In his other two matches at the venue he has twice notched fifties. One suspects Bairstow is the sort of chap who is aided by that feelgood factor so he might be worth following in for runs. He should go off at around 11/4 for top England bat. Man of the match prices could come in at 9/1.