Sri Lanka favorites against English in first match
Sri Lanka is expected to be too strong for the inexperienced visitors in the three one-day international series starting on Tuesday.india Updated: Nov 16, 2003 17:06 IST
Despite lackluster performances against England in the last series, Sri Lanka is expected to be too strong for the inexperienced visitors in the three one-day international series starting on Tuesday.
A whitewash of cricket minnows Bangladesh by Michael Vaughan's new-look English side isn't bringing much comfort in the absence of big name players.
The match will be special for Vaughan who made his debut in Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium in 2001 and now returns to the venue leading his team.
"Sri Lanka is a very good and experienced team playing on their home soil. We are relatively young...been around together for eight months now," Vaughan said.
"The keyword is experience. Not too many of our players have played many games," he said.
But the England team, even without stalwarts like Nassar Hussein, Alec Stewart, Andy Caddick and Darren Gough, is still formidable. England will expect much from Andrew Flintoff who scored three unbeaten half centuries and took seven wickets in the one-dayers against Bangladesh.
Opening batsman Marcus Trescothick, with 74 one-day appearances, will also be looked upon by his younger team mates. Also vital for England will be the return to form of left-arm spinner Ashley Giles and off-spinner Gareth Batty, as the Sri Lankan pitches are expected to offer plenty of turn.
The team also includes promising new ball bowlers James Anderson and Richard Johnson who bowled tight spells in Bangladesh. Unlike playing against Bangladesh, which has not won an international match in four years, Sri Lanka is likely to be a tougher test for England.
Sri Lanka has nine players who have played more than 100 one-dayers, with hard-hitting Sanath Jayasuriya appearing in more than 300 matches.
The squad also boasts stars like bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas.
Despite lacking experience, England can draw inspiration from the fact that they have beaten Sri Lanka in five of their last seven one-day matches.
But Sri Lanka's weak middle will also be a worry for skipper Marvan Atapattu. No. 4 batsman Mahela Jayawardena averaged only three runs in nine World Cup matches but showed some improvement in the last series against the West Indies.
Middle order batsman Russel Arnold, who failed to find a regular place after a poor World Cup, and left-arm seamer Nuwan Zoysa, who was dropped after failing against England last year, return to the side after performing well for Sri Lanka A in South Africa and Kenya.