Pitch report now. It’s been under covers for a bit, but there’s little grass on the surface. “Towards the centre of the surface, there are two different shades to the surface. But that shouldn’t affect it a great deal, good to bat first and get a big score,” says Russell Arnold.
Hashir says : “Would have really preferred Roshen Silva for solidity, but I guess that compounds the opening woes of Sri Lanka with Dimuth also gone. Hope this combination works – especially that Kusal Mendis fires. He needs to get back amongst the runs badly. If he doesn’t perform this match, maybe a rest would do him good.”
swapnil: “Hey Andrew, with your ability to foresee future….Pls tell us what is goint to be India’s eleven tomorrow….” — Ah, why Andrew? I can tell you. Not hard to predict. Basically whoever is fit, plays.
Anoukh: “Asitha Fernando is an interesting selection. He debute in Jo’burg and bowled with good accuracy and decent pace. Just 23 years old, he has good numbers on Sri Lanka’s domestic circuit – where pitches require fast bowlers to toil and innovate. “
9.30am Sri Lanka have won the toss, will bat.
Sri Lanka: 1 Lahiru Thirimanne, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal (capt), 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Lasith Embuldeniya, 11 Asitha Fernando
England: 1 Zak Crawley, 2 Dom Sibley, 3 Jonny Bairstow, 4 Joe Root (capt), 5 Dan Lawrence, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Sam Curran, 8 Dom Bess, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Mark Wood, 11 Jack Leach.
Vatsal: “As an Indian, I will be watching this series keenly and hoping for a SL win so that Eng dont get those championship points…Go Sri Lanka!!”
Lakshitha: “I remember Andrew Fidel Fernando saying in his preview that “there is still time to get injured”. What a visionary!”
Frase: “Poor Sri Lankan players suffering so many injuries. Crazy news about Karunaratne! And an amazing prediction in Andrew Fernando’s match preview (with one day left, there’s still plenty of time to get injured). A shame though, I really like Karunaratne’s laid-back style. “
Breaking: We’re hearing Dimuth Karunaratne has been ruled out of the match with a fractured thumb, Dinesh Chandimal to lead. The news is courtesy Sri Lankan journalist Rex Clementine. Also looks like Suranga Lakmal isn’t fit. We’ll have that confirmed for you in just a bit with the toss imminent.
England have handed a Test cap to Dan Lawrence. Here’s George Dobell on the 23-year old: “Has allready played more first-class games than the likes of Babar Azam and Shai Hope, he has earned this opportunity. He is not obviously more talented than Ben Duckett, James Vince or Tom Westley – just a selection of those who have worked this road before him – but he might just be better mentally prepared.” Read more here.
9.10am Hemant Buch, a cricket tragic and the man who will be bringing the pictures live to us on our TV screens, has tweeted. And boy, it’s a gorgeous day in Galle. Blue skies, green grass, and you can fill in the rest. “Let’s hope it stays that way,” he thunders.
9.05am If you’re pumped up and can’t wait for play to start, calm yourself down by listening to our Switch Hit podcast, where Alan Gardner, George Dobell and Andrew Fernando talk about everything Sri Lanka v England.
Lachlan: “Perfect situation for an Australian watching. Days 2 – 5 of this test overlaps with the Aus-India series. Will give me 12 hour days of test cricket, what could be better?”
Finn opens our comments today: “I cannot wait for this series to start, the two teams may not be as good as India or Australia but they’ll definitely provide as much entertainment. Lets pray the rain stays away!” — Well, England very much in with a shout to make the World Test Championship final.
9am It’s no secret that Galle favours spinners much more, but that ain’t tempting England to play three spinners. They’re likely to go with two specialists in Dom Bess and Jack Leach, alongside three seamers. If needed, they can always turn to the part-time spin of Root and Dan Lawrence, who is set to make his debut.
8.50am The day has dawned bright in Galle. The sun has come out and it’s dry at the moment. All great news as far as us having an on-time start goes. It’s not a bad time for you’ll to dig into Andrew Fernando’s preview.
8.45am Hello and a warm welcome to all of you for the opening day of Sri Lanka’s home
summer winter (really?, What’s that?). The series that was to be played in March last year was pushed back to now, and here we are at the magnificent Galle International Stadium for the first of two Tests.
England arrived on January 4, five days before Sri Lanka did after an injury-ravaged squad lost 2-0 in South Africa. But all that’s a thing of the past, if Dimuth Karunaratne, Sri Lanka’s captain, is to be believed. He has quickly moved on from there and believes his side will put up a better fight here.
For starters, they’ll have Angelo Mathews back, and Dinesh Chandimal, who missed the second Test in South Africa, is also set to return. That definitely shores up their batting. What will their bowling combination be? They’re fighting injuries and we have to wait and see if Suranga Lakmal is fit to play. There’s also a good chance they’ll play three spinners.
England are missing some of the players who propelled them to their 3-0 win on their 2018 tour. Ben Stokes is being rested. Adil Rashid wasn’t picked in the squad. Moeen Ali was probably going to play, but contracted Covid-19 and can’t. And despite being Player of the Series in that whitewash, Ben Foakes has been edged out of the wicketkeeper’s spot by Jos Buttler. So this will be a contest between wo deeply flawed and unpredictable squads. Let’s go, this should be fun. Alan Gardner will join me shortly, stocked with a lot of coffee as it’s still very early in the morning for him in the UK.
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