India will look to seal a series win when they take on hosts England in the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday. Virat Kohli’s men lead the three-match series 1-0 after their commanding eight wicket win in Trent Bridge.
With a series win on the line, the men in blue are expected to field their strongest line-up once again. This will mean that Dinesh Karthik will continue to miss out with Suresh Raina set to retain his place in the middle-order.
While no changes are expected in India’s batting and all-round departments, the question mark leading into Saturday’s game will be the fitness of pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The pacer sat out the first ODI due to a stiff lower back with Siddarth Kaul sharing the new-ball attack with Umesh Yadav.
With the all-important five-match Test series set to follow the ODIs, Kohli might be tempted to rest Bhuvneshwar, especially after Jasprit Bumrah’s injury blow.
As such, Kaul could keep his place in the playing XI after a decent showing in Trent Bridge.
For the hosts, Alex Hales has been ruled out for the remainder of the series due to a side strain which in effect will make the selection task much easier for skipper Eoin Morgan. With Hales out, England are set to repeat their batting order in Nottingham with Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Morgan and Jos Buttler set to make up the middle-order while Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow continue to open the innings.
It will be in the bowling department that Morgan could consider a change with his pacers going wicketless in the first ODI. Mark Wood was highly expensive and the hosts could turn to either Jake Ball or Sam Curran to freshen things up.
England: Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Sam Curran.
India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Siddarth Kaul, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Joe Root might have seen himself dropped for the final T20 between England and India but the top-order batsman has now reportedly sealed a deal to sign with Big Bash League (BBL) outfit Sydney Thunder.
According to a report by the Telegraph, the England Test skipper will undertake a maiden stint in Australia’s T20 league with his signing set to be announced next month. Root will be joined by his England team-mate Jos Buttler who has been with the Thunder since 2017.
The BBL is expected to get underway this December with the schedule set to be announced next week.
Root, who has spoken about his need for playing T20 cricket, went unsold during the IPL auction earlier this year despite throwing his hat in the ring for the first time.
After being dropped for Ben Stokes in the deciding T20 at Bristol, Root had spoken about his lack of opportunities in the format.
“Until there’s a really good block for me to go and play T20 cricket somewhere in a domestic tournament, it’s going to be hard to get a string of games to put that case across,” he said.
“I’m fully confident in the ability I have in that format.
“I can perform in T20 cricket. I don’t see it as a closed door for me, but I have to make sure, in the limited opportunities I have, to keep performing.”
The 27-year-old has played 28 T20Is for England and has scored 787 runs at an average of 35.77 and a strike-rate of over 128. Most importantly, Root has played only 11 T20Is since the final of the World Twenty20 in 2016.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Sri Lankan cricket, on paper, is in a pickle. Their captain Dinesh Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha are out of the Test series against South Africa after pleading guilty to a Level Three ‘spirit of cricket offence’ for refusing to take the field in the St Lucia Test in the West Indies over a ball-tampering charge.
To make matters worse, the Sri Lankan Cricket board being is run by the government with the ICC insisting on fresh elections at the earliest to preserve the country’s ICC membership. Also, in the absence of relevant decision makers, the proposed Sri Lankan Premier League was suspended once again.
Let’s come back to the cricket field. South Africa are one of the strongest outfits in world cricket and along with a stellar batting and pace bowling line-up, have not one but two quality spinners in Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. Plus veteran quick Dale Steyn was back to prove a point, which can never be good news for batsmen.
In the first innings of the first Test, things were going according to ‘script’, with a spirited Proteas attack reducing the hosts to 176-8. Then, opener Dimuth Karunaratne decided to take matters int his own hands as he hit a superlative 158 not out in the company of No10 and captain Suranga Lakmal (10) and No11 Lakshan Sandakan (25).
A total of 287 was decent and Sri Lanka’s bowlers turned into a decisive one as they shot South Africa out for 126. Off-spinner Dilruwan Perera took four and captain Lakmal three. Game, set and match right there?
Sri Lanka are now so far ahead on a pitch giving enough help to spinners that only rain can seem to deny them. While this effort on its own might come as a surprise, Sri Lanka’s performances in Test cricket since September show this is just part of a trend.
Following a 3-0 defeat to India at home in July, the Sri Lankans scripted remarkable turnaround. They defeated Pakistan – albeit one without the legendary Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan – 2-0 in the UAE and put a good fight in India as lost the three-match series 1-0. A 1-0 Test win in Bangladesh – which is no mean feat by any stretch of the imagination – followed before the Sri Lankans were challenged in the West Indies on greentops. They lost the first Test, saw their captain Dinesh Chandimal suspended for the third after being charged with ball tampering in the second, and then against all odds on a green minefield in the Bridgetown day-night Test and under the untested leadership of seamer Suranga Lakmal, won and squared the series.
The unwavering left-arm spin of veteran Rangana Herath is beginning to lose its edge. Batting mainstay Angelo Mathews still misses a number of matches due to a dodgy hamstring. But on the field and in the toughest possible arena in the game called Test cricket, Sri Lanka are not only surviving but excelling.