Thursday, 26 May 2011

England v Sri Lanka Series Preview

OK, I may have left the series preview a little late, as everything that could have been written about this series has already been said. However, it's not like me to miss out on anything England related, so I'm throwing my hat into the ring with this effort.

From what's been written already, a lot of people are assuming England just need to turn up and the series win will be sorted. A lot of people are seriously underestimating this Sri Lankan side. Yes, there may be no Murali or Malinga, but there is an awful lot of strength there. Dilshan, Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene would walk straight into most people's World XI, and are a rather frightening prospect for England at 2, 3 and 4. Opening the innings with Dilshan will be the superbly named Tharanga Paranavitana, who may have a modest test record but already boasts two hundreds in two games this tour. Thilan Samaraweera is oft forgotten, but he averages 54 in tests. And new boy Dinesh Chandimal is scarily talented and could really announce himself this series. If all goes as expected, there are a lot of runs in this Sri Lankan side.

The bowling, however, may be a different story. The loss of Muralitheran and Malinga is well documented, and with a very inexperienced bowling line up playing in very foreign English conditions, taking 20 wickets could be a rather large challenge.

There's been a lot of hyping about England this series, with much of it probably undeserved. Yes, England have performed well over the past two years, but that should be tempered by remembering that England were taking on sides who were certainly not at their peak. Much of the Ashes success was due to keeping the "big players" quiet with carefully thought out plans, but with so many "big players" in that Sri Lankan top order, it could be a tall order. While England's attack does look strong, on the roads that Cardiff and the Rose Bowl have likely prepared in order to maximise revenue, taking enough wickets could too be a struggle.

In his two warm-up games as captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan certainly proved to be a bold and adventerous captain, and by leading his team to a win after following on agains the Lions, appears to have fostered a never-say-die attitude. Objectively, Sri Lanka have the stronger batting, but England have a better all-round team. My only concern would be that neither side will have enough to fire the others out twice, which will probably lead to some very high scoring draws. I would guess that only if a couple of people had blinders with the ball we would see results, and as England have the better bowlers (and because I'm biased) if I had to stick my neck out I'd go for an England win. But, my overall series preview in a nutshell would be that it will be much closer than people are expecting...

Random Match Predictions

1st Test: Cardiff - England by 73 runs (MOM Strauss)
2nd Test: Lord's - England by 3 wickets (MOM Bell)
3rd Test: Rose Bowl - Draw (MOM Sangakkara)

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