Dark clouds and the threat of rain made England captain Joe Root doubtful about choosing sides for the opening test in Sri Lanka from Thursday. The southern coastal city has seen several days of rainy weather with more on the way for the first of two tests, leaving tourists wondering whether to use more pace at the generally friendly ticket office. “We have to take the conditions into account again, we’ve had a lot of rain over the last 24 hours so we’re going to review the wicket and make sure we’re really clear on the XI we want to come into the game with,” Root told reporters on Wednesday.
England is resuming a Sri Lankan tour that was cut short in March as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic spread.
Root, who led England to a 3-0 sweep in Sri Lanka in 2018, said his beaters should be ready to adjust to spin-friendly South Asian tracks as they look to repeat their success .
“It’s one of the big challenges coming to play in Sri Lanka, and in the subcontinent, is that the pace of the game is so different from playing in English conditions,” he said.
“There’s a lot more spin, a lot more double spin and it’s been a big part of the game in this part of the world.
“Last time around we felt like the one who adapted the fastest and grabbed those great moments of the game. And we hope we can repeat it this time around.”
– ‘Inverted swing, hostile spell’ –
However, the star drummer said dressmakers can become a weapon in wet conditions.
“Throughout the winter we’ll definitely try to exploit this as a tactic in these conditions, whether it’s a reverse swing or a little more hostile bowling,” Root said.
“I think with the weather we’ve had around – we’ve had a lot of rain and there’s a lot of humidity around – so the sewing could play a bigger role.”
James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Olly Stone and Mark Wood lead the visitors’ pace picks for the first test.
Chris Woakes is unlikely to play after being isolated due to his close contact with Moeen Ali, who has tested positive for Covid-19 and is still in quarantine.
There are six spinners in the English party – Dom Bess, Jack Leach and Moeen in the main team, supplemented by reserves Mason Crane, Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi.
Sri Lankan skipper Dimuth Karunaratne praised the opposing spinners but believes the hosts have learned from their past mistakes.
“We never underestimate their bowlers,” said Karunaratne.
“We know the conditions and have some plans against them. We’re playing our normal game without fear. We learned a lot from the previous series and we won’t make that mistake again.”
Karunaratne has also shorted his side for the game, but said Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal will play.
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