Sri Lanka vs England 2018, 1st ODI, Dambulla – Match Preview; Hosts Sri Lanka will look to bury their previous hatchets and come out all guns blazing when they meet England in the 1st of the five-match ODI series, which begins on Wednesday in Dambulla.

However, there is hardly any doubt about the fact that England will start as the overwhelming favourites especially given the form both teams have shown in the last few months.

Sri Lanka vs England 2018, 1st ODI, Dambulla – Match Preview

While England has been the best ODI side in the world by far, Sri Lanka hasn’t managed to compete well. Even during the Asia Cup 2018, they couldn’t quite make it to the playoffs after getting thrashed at the hands of Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the visitors, England have been at their best in the 50-over format and look a firm contender for the 2019 World Cup.

Sri Lanka vs India 2018, 1st ODI - Preview
England players train ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka. Image Courtesy: Getty

England has a pretty settled line-up and even the bench strength possess some exceptional skills and has the ability to change the complexion of the match. The biggest plus for England will be the return of Chris Woakes and Mark Wood who have been an integral part of the England ODI team. However, they had to miss out the previous series owing to injuries.

The back problem of David Willey has paved the way for Sam Curran who won the Man of the Series in his debut Test series against India recently. Curran was an asset for England during the Test series and will look to be more of the same in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. Moreover, England has a settled top-order with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, getting them off to flying starts on most occasions.

Woakes to return to ODI setup

Sri Lanka vs India 2018, 1st ODI - Preview
Chris Woakes would be keen to return to the ODI setup. Image Courtesy: Getty

Even during the ODI series against India, it was the opening duo who gave England flying starts. During the ODI series against Australia which they won by a 5-0 margin, it was Roy and Bairstow who were at their ominous best. Joe Root at number three provides solidity in the middle order. Meanwhile, he struck a superb century against India during the final 3rd ODI and celebrated his century in style.

Meanwhile coming back to Chris Woakes, he hasn’t featured in the white-ball format this season despite being the spearhead in this format. He will look for a few good performances ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Given all the permutations and combinations of England, they will be a pretty tough side to beat.

Sri Lanka who will be the hosts for the series had played some very poor cricket in the recent past. Their performances in the Asia Cup 2018 was below par. The batting department failed miserably and never allowed their team to make a mark in the tournament. What will excite Sri Lanka is the return of Lasith Malinga in full throttle?

The fast bowler made a sensational comeback during the match against Bangladesh and bagged crucial wickets to make his return to international cricket. However, in the very next game, he received some special treatment from the Afghanistan side.

However, Malinga is a champion bowler, and he showed why he is rated so highly even today in international cricket. If he is fit and sound, Malinga will be a vital cog for Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup.

Angelo Mathews got dropped

However, Angelo Mathews got dropped from the squad which is indeed a shock especially given the fact that he was the leading run-scorer for Sri Lanka during the series against South Africa which Sri Lanka lost by a 3-2 margin.

Sri Lanka vs India 2018, 1st ODI - Preview
Dinesh Chandimal would lead Sri Lanka in the ODI series against England. Image Courtesy: Getty

Also, the top-order looks brittle and lacks the experience. Dinesh Chandimal who got appointed as the new skipper of the limited-overs team will seem to make an impact both as a skipper and a batsman. He is an experienced player and should look to lead from the front.

There is no doubt about the fact that Sri Lanka is in total turmoil at this current stage. If they don’t start getting their combinations right, it will be a tough ask for them, especially in the 2019 World Cup. They have some capable players at the top-order. However, most of them lack the consistency which has been their major drawback in recent years.

Team Combinations 

Sri Lanka 

Probable XI: Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep

England

Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Liam Dawson, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood