SL Finished.135 & 359 - 421 & 76/3 ENG
Sri Lanka vs England 1st Match Predictions and Series Preview
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Sri Lanka vs England 1st Match Predictions and Series Preview

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14.01.2021, 10:30 IST
Galle International Stadium

There was a time when Sri Lanka versus England would be an exciting prospect; when names like Kumara Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, and Lasith Malinga, or even Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, and Muttiah Muralitharan decorated the former’s lineup. Nowadays, though, things haven’t been good for the South Asian side. The last time Sri Lanka beat England in a Test was back in 2014, and since then the best they’ve managed is a draw. England on the other hand have improved drastically, and are now one of the best Test sides in the world. Nevertheless, any South Asian team is tricky to play at home, and this series might offer a fair few surprises. The World Test Championship also increases the stakes, with England hot on the heels of India and Australia. Before the first match gets under way, let’s take a look at the two sides.

Sri Lanka Announced squad, Predicted XI, Preview, Form, and Key players for this match

Announced squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Kusal Mendis (wk), Minod Bhanuka, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Lasith Embuldeniya, Asitha Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Santhush Gunathilake, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Suranga Lakmal, Dilshan Madushanka, Angelo Mathews, Dilruwan Perera, Kasun Rajitha, Dasun Shanaka, Lahiru Thirimanne.

Predicted XI 1st match: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis (wk), Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Dushmantha Chameera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Thirimanne, Lasith Embuldeniya, Wanindu Hasaranga.

Following their double defeat against South Africa, Sri Lanka will be looking to improve their game as they come up against an arguably stronger England side. There’s quite a lot of talent on the side, and many of them performed well on the tour, despite the final result. On the batting end, one can look towards Karunaratne, Perera, Mendis, Chandimal, Thirimanne, and de Silva, all of whom can take on just about any bowler England can offer in subcontinental conditions. On the other side, Chameera and Rajitha offer a decent pace attack, while Hasaranga, Mathews, and Dhananjaya will exploit the plentiful lateral movement on Sri Lankan pitches. They might not be amazing on paper, but there’s a sense of growth and grit to this Lankan team that might take England by surprise. 

SL Key players

  • Dimuth Karunaratne: The captain didn’t have a very good tour down south, and he will want to make amends at home.

  • Dinesh Chandimal: The experienced batsman might choose to leave keeping up to one of the Kusals to make the best of his batting skills.

  • Wanindu Hasaranga: Hasaranga will be overjoyed to finally be playing a home Test after 10 months. Expect him to make the best of the pitch.

  • Angelo Mathews: If he does play, his smooth medium pace and movement with the ball will be a thorn in England’s side.

England Announced squad, Predicted XI, Preview, Form, and Key players for this match

Announced squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes (wk), Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, James Bracey, Mason Crane, Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Matt Parkinson, Ollie Robinson, Amar Virdi.

Predicted XI for 1st match: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Dom Sibley, Amar Virdi.

With Moeen Ali missing the first match due to quarantine issues, it will be up to less experienced spinners to take up the mantle under the conditions. Considering the fact that there’s no Stokes either, Chris Woakes will have to fill the top all-rounders shoes. Thankfully, England’s batsmen are in top form, and as long as they can navigate the spinners well to get the runs, the bowlers should be able to contain the opposition batsmen. Crawley has quite a lot to prove, but he will have Root, Bairstow, Sibley, and Buttler to help him out. WIth Anderson and Broad only bowling provisionally on a pitch that’s not too kind on quick bowlers, Bess, Leach, Root, and possibly Virdi to make the best of the conditions. 

ENG Key players

  • Joe Root: Another captain who’s a key player for his team, Root’s batting chops will have to be in full flow if he is to withstand the Lankan spin attack before inflicting some damage back with his own spin.

  • Jonny Bairstow: After recently claiming that he’s in the best form of his life, the onus is now on Bairstow to prove it on the field.

  • Dom Bess: England’s spin talent will no doubt enjoy his first outing to Sri Lanka.

  • Jack Leach: In combination with Bess, Leach will be expected to exploit the conditions for an exemplary, exhilarating exhibition of spin.


The last 6 years have set Sri Lanka back quite a bit after they had almost caught up with England in terms of Test wins against one another, but maybe this is where the Lankans strike back. In total, England has 15 wins to Sri Lanka’s 8, with 11 draws thrown into the mix. 

Sri Lanka vs England 1st match weather and pitch conditions

We’re not entirely sure why Galle was chosen as the venue for this Test, because the weather will be absolutely dreadful and the match will almost certainly be shortened, if not washed out almost entirely. Despite relatively pleasant temperatures, The first day should be pleasant with partly cloudy skies and some scattered rain, but the rain forecast for the next four days oscillates between 60 and 80%, with thunderstorms predicted on days 2-5. 

The pitch at the Galle has historically been pretty scary for batsmen, although the top score at the ground belongs to, of all teams, Bangladesh. Spinners will find their heaven here, while batsmen struggle to fend them off and sneak in as many runs as possible. The pitch offers very little bounce, so fast bowlers will mostly try to target the pads or thereabouts. Any first innings score above 400 is really good on this pitch.

Can Sri Lanka finally trump England to get an important win and morale boost? Or will England master their subcontinental weakness to make important strides in their hunt for WTC glory? Find out if our Sri Lanka vs England 1st Test Match prediction come true starting Thursday!

Match Winner:
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SL Top Batsman:
D Karunaratne
ENG Top Batsman:
J Root
SL Top Bowler (Wickets):
W Hasaranga
ENG Top Bowler (Wickets):
J Leach
Players to score a fifty:
D Karunaratne/D Chandimal/K Perera (SL), J Root/J Bairstow/D Sibley (ENG)
Players to score a century:
D Karunaratne/D Chandimal (SL), J Root/J Bairstow (ENG)
Most fours:
Most sixes:
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