Surrey wicketkeeper Foakes had planned for a rare winter at home after missing out on the 16-man squad but joined up as cover when regular gloveman Jonny Bairstow suffered an ankle injury during the recent one-day series.
England’s initial instincts were to hand the gloves to white-ball keeper Jos Buttler but took a late swerve towards the 25-year-old, a decision that is already paying dividends before he has even had a chance to stand up to the stumps.
Coming in after a flaky top-order performance left the tourists 103 for five in Galle, Foakes put together an assured, assiduous 87 not out to anchor an innings of 321 for eight.
Against a rotating cast of spinners and the doughty Suranga Lakmal he gave his team a much-needed backbone and showcased both the technique and the judgement to succeed at the highest level.
All the more surprising, then, that he was caught off-guard by his own selection.
“I only found out yesterday during training when Rooty (Joe Root) came to tell me. I was quite shocked to be fair,” he said.
“It was a whirlwind. I didn’t think I’d be playing. I was a little surprised but it was a proud moment. I had a lot of emotions this morning but to get out there and get off the mark settled me down a bit.”
Until Bairstow’s untimely tumble Foakes did not even think he would be in Sri Lanka, never mind performing in such style in front of over 8,000 fans – 6,130 inside the stadium and the remainder watching from atop the picturesque Galle Fort.
“I’d heard about Jonny’s ankle but I still wasn’t sure if I’d be coming out,” he added.
“I’d just got back from a lads’ trip to Lisbon when Ed Smith (national selector) gave me a ring… good preparation!
“I was going to have six months off, originally. I’ve had quite a few England Lions trips so it was just to kind of clear my head, get way from Cricket for a little while and come back fresh. Plans change, don’t they?”
Foakes’ composed innings is not just a personal triumph, but an institutional one for the England and Wales Cricket Board. He has travelled to Sri Lanka three times with the Lions and once on a placement with Colombo-based Colts CC, learning more about the alien conditions each time.
At Colts he even played alongside Dilruwan Perera and Akila Dananjaya, two of the bowlers who failed to prise him out here.
“Obviously coming out here a few times, you get good experience,” he said.
“At Colts I got to learn a little bit about Perera and Dananjaya, which was fantastic, it definitely helped. The thing you can’t really prepare for here is the heat, unless you’ve done it.”
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal suffered a groin strain while fielding and it is not yet clear whether he will be fit to bat.
“He is currently under observation and is not yet ruled out of the game,” said a spokesman for the team.
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Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have added 49 runs in the powerplay for India after getting off to a circumspect start. Rohit brought up his half-century off just 38 balls as India went past the 100-run mark in the 13th over of the innings.
Dhawan was the first Indian batsman to be dismissed as he fell for 43 to Fabian Allen in the 14th over. Rishabh Pant fell soon after but Rohit continued to deal in boundaries as the hosts approached an imposing total. The stand-in India skipper registered his fourth T20I ton in the final over of the innings as the hosts posted 195-2 in their 20 overs.
In reply, the visitors did not get off to the best of starts with Khaleel Ahmed striking twice in the powerplay overs. The India pacer removed Shai Hope before dismissing the dangerous Shimron Hetmyer in the sixth over. Upon the completion of the powerplay, Kuldeep Yadav struck twice with his first over to remove Darren Bravo and Nicholas Pooran.
From there on, there was no way back for the visitors who ultimately were restricted to 124-9 in their 20 overs.
The visitors will need to win the clash if they are to keep their chances in the three-match series alive after India won the opening match by five-wickets at Kolkata.
India welcome back Bhuvneshwar Kumar into the fold with the pacer recovering from his gastric issues. Umesh Yadav makes way from the playing XI to felicitate Bhuvneshwar’s return.
The Windies, on the other hand, have brought in Nicholas Pooran into their XI for the clash with Rovman Powell dropped from the line up.
Will the visitors turn the series on its head and record a win or will India continue their domination and clinch the trophy with one match to spare? Do not miss any of action by following our live ball-by-ball coverage from Lucknow below.
Pakistan crushed New Zealand 3-0 in the preceding Twenty20 series on Sunday – their second whitewash in a week following a romp over Australia, also in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
But Sarfraz, part of the team in the last 11 one-day internationals all of which Pakistan lost, wants to finally win against New Zealand.
“It’s important to break that losing streak and we need to bring improvement in our performance in one-day internationals,” said Sarfraz on Tuesday.
Pakistan lost the last two matches in a 3-2 series defeat in UAE in 2014, before losing 2-0 in 2015, 2-0 in 2016 and 5-0 in January 2018 – all in New Zealand.
“If you look at our losses most of them were in New Zealand where conditions were different and we lost due to top order failure where we need to improve,” said Sarfraz.
Pakistan also failed to qualify for the final of the Asia Cup held in UAE two months ago, losing both their matches against arch-rivals India and going down to Bangladesh in a clash which decided the finalist. India won the Asia Cup by beating Bangladesh.
Sarfraz said a tough opponent in New Zealand – ranked third to Pakistan’s fifth in one-day standings – will help the team build for next year’s World Cup in England.
“New Zealand is a good team of this format but we have momentum of the Twenty20 series so we must win this series and that will help towards building towards the World Cup,” said Sarfraz.
The last two matches are in Abu Dhabi (Friday) and in Dubai (Sunday).
Pakistan then play South Africa in South Africa, Australia (in UAE) and England in England – five one-day internationals each – before the World Cup.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson played down the winning streak against Pakistan, saying it will be a new series.
“It’s a new series and a fresh start,” said Williamson. “I guess it’s a nice statistic to have but at the end of the day, come tomorrow, its a new series.”
Williamson praised Pakistan as a limited over side.
“They are always a strong side and no matter the format,” said Williamson. “They have a lot of depth. We simply know they have been here for some time and they know these conditions and they have had lots of success.
“We are in here for a tough battle.”
New Zealand will welcome pace spearhead Trent Boult who missed the Twenty20 series due to personal reasons while also adding batsman George Worker and spinner Ajaz Patel (as a cover for injured Todd Astle) in the squad.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, George Worker
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Khan Shinwari
Umpires: Joe Wilson (WIS) and Shozab Raza (PAK)
Tv umpire: Nigel LIong (ENG)
Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)