Sri Lanka and England will face off in a two-match Test series as the Three Lions kick off a hectic 2021 schedule on the road.
England won their last tour in Sri Lanka by a 3-0 margin in late 2018 and return aiming to notch a second victory in a row over the Lions.
Sri Lanka impressed after their defeat to England with a fine win over South Africa on home soil.
However, the Proteas returned the favour earlier this month with a 2-0 triumph in South Africa.
It’s going to take a strong effort from the home side to bounce back from their recent loss against a strong England side.
Check our preview of the series and our tips below.
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England were outstanding on their last visit of Sri Lanka, whitewashing the home side by a 3-0 margin. Joe Root and his men were relentless in tough conditions, displaying fortitude with the bat and skill with the ball to put the Lions to the sword.
Dimuth Karunaratne is overseeing a rebuild of Sri Lankan cricket, although his side’s recent form has been patchy to say the least. They were outplayed by South Africa in their defeat on the road, even though they did produce some good moments.
The tourists put 396 on the board in the first Test at Centurion, only to concede 621 to the Proteas. South Africa strode to a dominant win by an innings and 45 runs to set the tone in the series.
Sri Lanka’s bowlers had work to do after the visitors were skittled for 157 in the second Test. Vishwa Fernando led a spirited effort to claim a five-wicket haul, but another poor batting display from the Lions allowed Quinton de Kock’s men to win the series.
Karunaratne and his men are going to have to raise their game against England. The Three Lions have not been in action in red ball cricket since September, which may leave them exposed amid the difficult conditions despite their squad depth.
England started 2020 with an excellent win in South Africa and will look for a similar surge to begin 2021 to justify their tag as favourites for the series on all top cricket betting sites.
1st Test: 14th – 18th January 2021 – Sri Lanka v England – Galle International Stadium
2nd Test: 22nd – 26th January 2021 – Sri Lanka v England – Galle International Stadium
Sri Lanka were soundly beaten by South Africa last time out and are in a rebuilding phase after seeing legends Kumar Sangakkara and Rangana Herath retire in recent years.
There is no simple way of plugging those holes left by world-class players. Karunaratne has been a fine player at the top of the order, but there is a lack of consistency in the ranks behind him.
Dinesh Chandimal has never quite developed into the batsman that his potential should have allowed in the middle order. The 31-year-old has a good Test record with 11 centuries to his name, although his performances against the elite outfits in the world have been underwhelming. He averages 28 against England, which is not good enough for a player of his calibre.
At 25, Kusal Mendis must find his touch at the highest level. He has threatened to break through but has struggled against quality opponents. Mendis scored a combined 12 runs in his four innings in the defeats to the Proteas. Unless he and the other senior batsmen rise to the occasion, Sri Lanka will head for another loss.
The bowling ranks do not offer much hope either. Asitha Fernando could be a player on the rise and he notched two wickets in the final Test against South Africa. Sri Lanka will hope this will give him the confidence to take on world class batsmen like Joe Root. Suranga Lakmal will offer valuable experience should he pass a fitness test.
Dimuth Karunaratne To Be Sri Lanka’s Top Batsman – 4.33 bet365
England head to Sri Lanka without a slew of key players. Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer are both rested for the tour, while Rory Burns has remained home for the birth of his child.
Root still has a quality team at his disposal, with players beginning to find their roles in the team. Ollie Pope should be fit after sustaining a shoulder injury in the final Test of the English summer.
Pope is part of a young England batting line-up that is flowing with potential. Zak Crawley will look to build on his breakout performance over the summer at the top of the order alongside Dom Sibley.
Jos Buttler proved his worth last year and has cemented his spot in the team. Jonny Bairstow regains his place and has momentum after playing well in the Indian Premier League, although Dan Lawrence will look to put him under pressure.
Root is the class act in the ranks, although the form that pushed him to the top of the game has deserted him of late. The England skipper has a big year ahead of him and needs a strong start.
The Three Lions have their reliable duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad ready to lead the attack. However, more focus will be on the spinners in this series.
Jack Leach came to the fore in 2018 with a fine set of performances, taking 18 wickets in three matches at an average of 21.38. He will be keen to prove a point after losing his place to Dom Bess, who will also be under the spotlight.
Expect a big series from Leach who will look to retake his place in the line-up ahead of a massive 2021 for England.
Jack Leach To Be England’s Top Bowler – 2.20 Betway
England won the last series in 2018 by a 3-0 margin and have dominated the contests between the two nations of late. The Three Lions also claimed victory in their previous series on home soil 2-0 in 2016, although Sri Lanka did beat England on tour 1-0 in 2014.
Overall, the two sides have played 34 matches, 15 of which have been England victories compared to Sri Lanka’s eight.
England enter the series as favourites due to the quality of their team and their 3-0 victory on their last visit. Sri Lanka do have home conditions in their favour, and they have been in red ball action more recently than their opponents, despite that being a defeat.
However, there are major discrepancies in the talent between the two teams. England are a team on the rise with a talented batting line-up and an experienced bowling unit. Root and company should be able to rack up the runs even without ICC 2019 Cricketer of the Year, Ben Stokes.
The absence of Archer should not be an issue either as the spinners will come to the fore for the Three Lions again, which is why they’re our cricket tip to record a comfortable 2-0 win.
England To Beat Sri Lanka Test Series – 2.62 Betway
England To Beat Sri Lanka 2-0 Test Series – 3.50 bet365