England have another chance to entertain the free to air TV viewership on Thursday evening when their second T20 international with Sri Lanka is screened live and in full on the BBC as well as the traditional Sky Cricket coverage.
England won the opening match is emphatic and convincing fashion and if the series means anything to them then they can secure it here before the two teams head off to Southampton for the last game. Sri Lanka must win here to make that a deciding game.
You never quite get a perfect performance in the opening game of a summer but England weren’t a million miles away from it in that opening game. You could tell their players were T20 sharp after a spell in the Vitality Blast and they took full advantage of that. They bowled tight and dangerous lengths and their fielding backed up their bowlers, which hasn’t always been the case in this format in recent times.
They were only chase a mid-range total but the emphatic way that Jason Roy and Jos Buttler went about getting after it shows that England aren’t just here to win the series, but to put their stall out for the World T20 which comes up later in the year. If there is improvement to come on that opening performance, and we know there is when they get key players back in the side, then England are announcing themselves as title contenders.
To be fair to Sri Lanka, I wasn’t expecting much from them going into the first match. They are clearly a side in transition and needing to come up with a plan. I thought they got as much out of the game as they could in many ways. Their batsmen are clearly going to struggle in these conditions. History tells us that much but they plugged away. They would like more from their middle order moving forward but it is hard to be too critical of them.
I guess one of the problems their batsmen are going to have in this series is that they are going to be making up for a shortfall in their bowling. They rely on spinners which when the big competition comes around in India later in the year is the way to go, but it does them no favours in English conditions where the seamers tend to benefit, especially with the rain that has been around for a while. A used pitch might help their bowlers however.
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It remains to be seen whether England want to use their squad now or wait until the series has been won and then give the squad members a go in Southampton. Moeen Ali could be one to come in here on a used pitch.
Sri Lanka might have to think about making a few changes to their side just to get a better balance to it. They went into the opening game full of all-rounders but those players were into bat far too early so another batsman might be brought in.
I’m a little surprised that the boundaries line for this match is 37.5 because the same pitch is going to be used for this game as the one they played on for the opening game on Wednesday. There were only 26 boundaries in that match and the pitch looked a bit tough to time the ball on. That isn’t going to get any better here you wouldn’t think. We should acknowledge that the boundary count was low partly because Sri Lanka batted first.
You would think it would be higher if England bat first but England faced 17.1 overs for those 16 boundaries so it wasn’t like they were going at any great lick in terms of the boundary hitting. The fact is the square boundaries here are very hard to access given their size and having had a match on the ground I expect the bowlers to adjust their lengths accordingly so I’m not expecting a boundary fest on a pitch we know isn’t the easiest to bat on. I’ll play the under there.
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