After a gap of three days, England is set to take on Sri Lanka in the second Test of the series, at the Galle International Stadium, starting from Friday (January 22). England are on a winning streak. They have four overseas Tests in a row and have also leveled India’s record of most consecutive Test wins in Sri Lanka - Five. Bringing England’s streak to a halt will be a tough task for Sri Lanka who have lost three Tests in a row but the fight they shown Day 3 onwards in the first game hints a good contest in the second and last Test of the series.
Pitch, conditions and team combination
With both Tests scheduled to play at the Galle International Stadium, judging the nature of the pitch - an important aspect of Fantasy cricket - should not be tough after the first Test. Especially knowing it’s Galle, a paradise for the spinners. The venue has now hosted four Tests since the start of 2018 and the batsmen here have scored at an average of 26.9, the least amongst all the four stadiums in the country to have hosted Test cricket in this time frame.
As many as 74.1 percent of the 143 wickets to have fallen here have gone to the spinners. The first Test had 23 out of the 30 wickets in the match (excluding run outs) go to the spinners. They bowled 72.6 percent of the overs and things are not expected to change much in the second Test as well, hence, giving pacers a lot less of a chance to cause an impact. Yes, the likes of Stuart Broad and Asitha Fernando impressed but it will still be more beneficial to pick all the five spinners who are expected to play the second Test, instead of going to any pacer.
Three of the five spinners expected to take part in the match - Lasith Embuldeniya, Dilruwan Perera and Dom Bess - can contribute with the bat as well making them a priceless asset.
While you could go for the above team, you also have the option of choosing your own team from cricket.com Fantasy Research Centre. Based on algorithms we come up with six different teams that could fetch crucial points.
Joe Root didn't score a single Test century in 2020 but made amends in style, scoring a match-winning double hundred in the first Test. Root showed the apt technique to tackle spin bowling on the Galle track. He swept the ball consistently to keep his score ticking over and displayed precise footwork to defend the ball. He is now back in top five of ICC Men's Test Batting Rankings with 738 rating points, his best in last two years.
Given how helpless Sri Lankan bowlers appeared in front of Root and his familiarity with the Galle track - he faced 324 balls in the Test - it is hard to look past the England skipper to be the captain of your Fantasy side.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Root could score 112-168 runs in this match.
Dom Bess picked more wickets but Jack Leach looked more threatening in the first Test. His left-arm angle, constantly taking the ball away from the Sri Lankan right-handers helped him challenge the outside edge of the bat more than any other spinner did in the first Test. Leach was back in his elements in the later half of the second innings and snaffled his second five-for in Test cricket.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Leach could take 4-6 wickets in this match.
Since 2018, no other bowler has taken more wickets than Dilruwan Perera in Sri Lanka. The 38-year-old has become Sri Lanka's premier spinner ever since Rangana Herath announced his retirement. Perera has taken 45 wickets at an average of 22, studded with four four-wicket hauls and as many five-wicket hauls, in Sri Lanka since the start of 2018. The veteran offspinner took 22 wickets in three games when England last toured Sri Lanka.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Perera could score 16-25 runs and could take 2-4 wickets in this match.
Lahiru Thirimanne’s resilient innings led Sri Lanka’s fightback. The southpaw was brilliant in the second innings to bring up his second Test ton, scoring 111 from 251 balls. It could not save the match for Sri Lanka but the left-hander certainly saved his What stood out was Thirimanne’s clarity. His innings was based on resolute defence but he did not miss out any scoring opportunities as well, making him a must pick batsman in your XI.
Our Criclytics player projector predicts Thirimanne could score 47-70 runs in this match.