England v Sri Lanka, 2nd ODI, Chester-le-Street May 24, 2014

Resurgent England wary of backlash


Match facts

Sunday, May 25, 2014
Start time 1030 local (0930 GMT)

Big Picture

Thursday's success has earned Alaistair Cook's men respite from the cycle of defeat that had defined them for much of the past six months. It is just one win, and that in a rain-hit match, but England have proved to themselves they can topple Sri Lanka, and importantly, to dominate the visitors' bowling. The upcoming matches may determine whether the Oval victory was the first ray of sunshine in a resurgent summer, or as their last win against Sri Lanka had been: a brief moment of warmth before howling winds lash again.

Weather of the literal kind that threatens to shape Sunday's encounter most. Rain is expected to arrive in the early afternoon, just as the first innings winds down. If a result is possible, dampness and cloud cover may suit England well. The hosts' bowlers enjoyed the increased zip off the Oval surface after the second rain break, and are more capable of harnessing swing in colder climes in general.

Sri Lanka's death bowling fell apart in the first game, after it had carried them through the World T20, but there is enough experience in that attack to refocus and recover quickly. Encouragingly for Sri Lanka, Sachithra Senanayake's variations were effective through the middle overs, and there's plenty more where that came from, in Ajantha Mendis.

It is the batsmen who ought to be more concerned, after they failed to mount a competitive riposte, albeit to an imposing total. Several of them failed to cover for bounce when the bowlers hit the deck, and others struggled to combat the swing, early on. There have not been pervasive technical issues among the batsmen in recent years, but the England bowlers will be spurred to dig balls in, after Thursday's evidence. One loss in 11 does not make Sri Lanka a poor team, however, and they will back themselves to adapt quickly, and go on to claim the series.

Form guide

England: WWWWL (last five matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: LWWWW

In the spotlight

Having broken into England's ranks with some good form, Gary Ballance's aptitude for busy batting was evident in a 72-ball 64, which set England's innings up on Thursday. Sri Lanka will have learned a little about him now, and would have a clearer plan on Sunday. If Ballance responds with more runs, he will further bolster his claim to a middle-order spot in the Tests.

Sri Lanka batsmen take time to mature. Almost no one averages 30 in ODIs before their 50th match, and fewer still regularly play match-winning innings. Dinesh Chandimal did both when he first arrived, but his recent struggles are well-documented. England have sought to bounce him out so far on tour, and they have done it with enough success to suggest they will stick with the plan. Sri Lanka will want to give Chandimal more time to settle, but with Ashan Priyanjan waiting in reserve, Chandimal will hope for a good score soon.

Teams news

England will probably be keen not to change a winning formula but the news that Alastair Cook has a groin problem means they may be forced into one. He will be assessed in the morning and Alex Hales has been drafted into the squad. Either he or Michael Carberry would replaced Cook.

England (probable): 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Joe Root, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Jordan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 James Anderson, 11 Harry Gurney

Sri Lanka will be tempted to bring in another spinner, but with cloud cover likely to be around, they may opt for four seamers again. Lahiru Thirimanne will likely stay as opener to allow Chandimal to remain in the side.

Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Lahiru Thirimanne, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene 5. Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Suranga Lakmal/Ajantha Mendis

Pitch and conditions

Chester-le-Street often offers plenty for the seamers, but hosted a high-scoring draw in the county championship early in the month.

Stats and trivia

  • Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara have usually enjoyed batting in England, in ODIs, averaging 44.9 and 50.6 respectively. Jayawardene is by some distance Sri Lanka's top scorer in the country, with 1123 runs

  • Alastair Cook has been similarly impressive against Sri Lanka, averaging 46.4, but has had a rougher time in 2014, when his average has been 28.4

  • Sri Lanka won the only match the teams have ever played at Chester-le-Street - an eight-wicket victory in 2006


"It has been amazing ... to walk out on the pitch with the Three Lions on my chest It's a dream come true - probably beyond my dreams, growing up ... and I want to carry on doing it for as long as I can.''
Harry Gurney reflects on the early days of his England career

"It's difficult conditions for us, because it's so cold. We can't control those things. But we are confident of coming back in the games to come.''
Sachithra Senanayake prepares to wrap up warm

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nicholas on May 25, 2014, 10:13 GMT

    @CodandChips (continued): Don't forget Bell's also a fantastic fielder. Can the same be said of Carberry and Hales?

    I'm on the fence re. Cook, especially in his current abysmal form. Decent slip fielder and I haven't lost faith him as a batsman in tests; ODI's I'm not so sure and T20's definitely not. If anything I'd maybe say it's time to let him focus on tests alone, and let Hales take the opening slot in both ODI's and T20's. Morgan can captain the short formats (and Broad's done it as well, but I'd prefer Morgan does it).

  • Bandu on May 25, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    Strange Innings - Strange selection - comes to an end with Thirimanne going mercifully for the Sri Lankans.

  • Bandu on May 25, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    Why not even Kithruwan - anyone better than Lahiru

  • Nicholas on May 25, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    @CodandChips (post on May 25, 2014, 7:24 GMT): Mate, you seem to change your mind every day. A few posts ago, weren't you agreeing with me that Bell is an intricate part of England's ODI team, and is perhaps even more crucial now that Trott is away?

    In dry, bouncy countries/conditions like Australia and South Africa, Australia have undoubtedly shown us that you can pretty much attack from ball one and this works well; but just about everywhere else in the world (U.K. included where we get swing and seam galore) I still maintain that a steady grafter-type player is needed at the top of the order (and probably another one in the middle order) to build an innings. 50 overs is a long time. Teams full of guys that simply come out swinging at every ball have been- and will be- skittled out for next-to-nothing against any good bowling. Bell in for me, and then if he does get out in the middle-late overs, the likes of Morgan/Buttler/Jordan are more than capable to finish off.

  • Bandu on May 25, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Who selected Thirimanne to open ? 3runs in 27 balls as opener in an ODI !!

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    Who has DOCUMENTED Mahala's Recent struggles?, Shall we compare Mahela to Chandimal? Mahela's recent 15 odi innings...7,11,22,42,17,24,12,1,46,13,9,14,0,75,35, total =286, Average=286/15=19.06.

    Chandimal's last 15 ODI innings,

    9,15,46,44,36,5,64,13,9,64,19,0,26,39,8, Total =397, Average=28.17.

    So it's clear Chandimal is performing better than Mahela..But Mahela's struggles not documented yet.

  • Sean on May 25, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Cmon lads. Hope Ballance scores a million!

  • Sage on May 25, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    Hey... Yousufahmed1...I have to support the team I like and I like Australia too. I started liking cricket because of Australian cricket team and it is only my opinion...if you feel otherwise, well i respect your opinion too. Since 2007 out of the most World cup tournaments, SL has come closer to winning or being runners up. So I feel SL is the best team. Can any other team say that? I'm very much realistic about how I feel...may be the entire universe feel otherwise...that's fine by me...

  • Dummy4 on May 25, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Mahela and Sanga should be included to the team only on ROTATING Basis.That will enable more oppertunaties to the youngsters. Other thing is Mahela's previous records proves that he is only good when matches are played in SRI Lanka ( SSC ) > So Chandimal should be provided more oppertunaties because he is the FUTURE ARAVINDA DE SILVA of Sri Lanka.....

  • richard on May 25, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    @ CodandChips on (May 25, 2014, 7:24 GMT) Mate you say 'It was a good win but this set-up will not work too well outside of England imo. How much world cup preparation are we actually getting?' After watching England last summer just getting a settled squad playing on friendly conditions where they can gain some confidence is probably the best preparation they can get, only the future will tell us if India's summer in Australia is good preparation or not.

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