Dambulla: Sri Lanka, who endured a terrible campaign in Asia Cup last month, will look to turn the corner at home against England in the five-match One-Day International series that gets underway in Dambulla from Wednesday.
There has been a stark contrast in the fortunes of the two sides over the last few months. While Sri Lanka have largely struggled to get their team balance in order, England have emerged victorious against top sides such as Australia and India in recent times. They are the No.1 side in the world on the ICC rankings and despite a historically poor record in Sri Lanka, are favourites to prevail in the ODI series.
However, despite their strong showings in recent times, captain Eoin Morgan insisted that England were far from a finished product, with the World Cup eight months down the line.
“We still have a long way to go,” he said ahead of the first match. “It’s taken us three and a half years to get to where we are, but I think we’re getting to the most important part of what we’ve been planning towards.”
Following a disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign, England shed their old-fashioned approach of preserving wickets upfront and openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have played a vital role in this with the former in particular. In the last 12 months, Bairstow has amassed 970 runs in the 50-over format at an average of 51.05 and more importantly a strike rate of 121.05.
The middle-order then boasts the likes of Alex Hales, Joe Root and Morgan. Having played in the subcontinent conditions before, England will rely on them to counter the spin-threat posed by Sri Lanka while Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali will look to provide the late flourish.