COLOMBO: Joe Root’s England will look to sweep Sri Lanka in the second and final Test, starting Friday, as they prepare to face an India side buoyed by their sensational victory in Australia. England, who resumed a tour that was halted in March by the coronavirus pandemic, won the first Test in Galle by seven wickets and start a four-Test series in India on February 5.
India are riding high after Tuesday’s stunning win in Brisbane, which snapped Australia’s 32-year unbeaten streak at the Gabba and clinched the series 2-1. “If we can go into that series with a 2-0 win it would do us a world of good for our confidence,” said England coach Chris Silverwood. “All being well by the time we get to India we’ll have hit our straps fully and be ready to hit the first game hard.”
After skittling Sri Lanka for 135, England should have strolled to victory with Root scoring 228 of England’s first innings of 421. But Sri Lanka’s batsmen put up fierce resistance in the second innings. Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Mark Wood led the pace component of an attack that twice bowled out Sri Lanka.
But Silverwood said the team would rotate their options for the second Test, also in Galle, with James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Olly Stone also in the squad. “Looking at what we’ve got in front of us with a lot of Tests in India as well, it’s highly likely that there will be rotation and rest within the seamers’ line-up,” Silverwood said. “There’s plenty of things on the table at the moment, so we have to do what’s best for the players and equally, making sure that we’ve got the strongest balanced attack out there to make sure we win the Test match as well.”
Silverwood confirmed that Moeen Ali, who is out of isolation after testing positive for coronavirus, is unlikely to play. England’s performance in the next five Tests will decide the finalists of the inaugural world Test championship.
They are currently ranked behind New Zealand, India and Australia with the top two teams reaching the final. England need a convincing series win to stand a chance of going to Lord’s. Sri Lanka meanwhile are hoping to bounce back under stand-in captain Dinesh Chandimal, with regular skipper Dimuth Karunaratne out with a broken finger.
Kusal Mendis was one of five players moved out of the team’s biosecure ‘bubble’ for the second match after being dismissed in Galle for his fourth Test duck in five innings. Sri Lanka, who recently suffered a 2-0 Test loss in South Africa, are hoping to have paceman Suranga Lakmal fit for the final game. Spinners including Lasith Embuldeniya, Dilruwan Perera and Wanindu Hasaranga remain key on a Galle track expected to favour the turning ball.
Shakib Al Hasan claimed four wickets for eight runs in his international comeback to set up an easy six-wicket victory for Bangladesh over West Indies in the first one-day international in Dhaka yesterday. Debutant pacer Hasan Mahmud also impressed with the ball, picking up 3-28 as the hosts bowled out the weakened tourists for 122 before racing to 125-4 in 33.5 overs.
Skipper Tamim Iqbal top-scored with 44 off 69 while all-rounder Shakib played his part with the bat, hitting 19. Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein took 3-26 to give the home batsmen some trouble but his effort was not enough to defend the visitors’ meagre total. Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad were unbeaten on 19 and nine runs respectively to complete the win, helping Bangladesh take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Opting to bowl first, Bangladesh earlier wrapped up the West Indies innings in 32.2 overs. “No complaints, we bowled extremely well. Not just the spinners, but the pacers as well,” said Tamim at the prize-giving ceremony.
West Indies captain Jason Mohammed said he was disappointed with his side’s performance. “It wasn’t easy to start on, but we didn’t have enough guys getting partnerships and those who got starts didn’t carry on,” he said. Mustafizur Rahman, who claimed 2-20, seized the early momentum for Bangladesh, trapping Sunil Ambris in front for seven in the second over. He removed Joshua Da Silva for nine after a rain break that halted play for nearly an hour.
Playing his first international after a one-year suspension, Shakib’s left-arm spin immediately put pressure on the West Indies. He bowled Andre McCarthy for 12 before West Indies’ stand-in captain Jason Mohammed was stumped off his bowling for 17. Nkrumah Bonner went for a duck leg before wicket in Shakib’s next over to leave the West Indies struggling at 56-5. Kyle Mayers hit 40 off 56 balls and added 59 runs with Rovman Powell (28) for the seventh wicket to bring some respectability to the visitors’ score.
Hasan’s pace removed Powell and Raymon Reifer with successive deliveries to end the resistance. Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan dismissed Mayers as the West Indies lost their last five wickets for seven runs. Shakib claimed the final wicket of Alzarri Joseph (four). The second match of the series will be held at the same venue on Friday. – AFP