England lock horns with Sri Lanka in the first ODI of a three-match series on Tuesday, June 29 at the Riverside Ground in Durham, mere days after whitewashing the visitors in a three-match T20I assignment.
England won the three matches by 89 runs, five wickets and eight wickets respectively, furthering their claim to be one of the favorites for the upcoming T20 World Cup. They now return to the format where they have experienced the most success over the last few years, largely thanks to their explosive batting unit and exciting brand of cricket.
England will be without one of the pioneers of that approach, Jos Buttler, who suffered a calf injury in the first T20I and has been ruled out of the rest of the white-ball summer. Other star players like Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes will also miss out, but their rotation policy has meant that an army of international superstars are ready to take the field on short notice.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, desperately need a few positive results in what has been an extremely difficult period of transition. To add insult to the injury of their T20I whitewash, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka and Niroshan Dickwella have been removed from the contingent for a bio-bubble breach and will make their way back home.
Sri Lanka's biggest source of concern has been their batting, and losing three key components of a misfiring unit would be the last thing they would have wanted. However, on the flip side, youngsters could get the opportunity to stake a claim for a regular place in the side.
England are easily the favorites to beat Sri Lanka in the ODI series, but can the visitors spring a surprise in the series opener at Durham?
England vs Sri Lanka 1st ODI Match Prediction: Who will win the series opener in Durham?
England's secret to success has been formulating clear plans and sticking to them. The batting unit and the bowling attack have come together to perform as one in most games, with the presence of several all-rounders adding great depth to both departments.
In the final T20I, Dawid Malan roared back to form after being promoted to an opening slot in the absence of Jos Buttler. He hasn't played too many ODIs for the country, but could get a chance to impress in a longer format after coming in as a replacement for Buttler.
Joe Root, who has made a return to the English ODI side, could take up a place in the middle order. If Jonny Bairstow is entrusted with the gloves, either Liam Livingstone or Moeen Ali could play instead of Sam Billings, accompanying Adil Rashid as a spin-bowling all-rounder.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are yet to formulate clear plans - or so it seems. The batting came a cropper in all three T20Is, and concerningly, things only seemed to get worse with each game. Kusal Perera desperately needs to lead from the front and somehow fashion a win or two to boost his team's spirits.
The bowling attack did relatively well in the T20I series. Binura Fernando was impressive, while Wanindu Hasaranga was lethal in certain phases and toothless in others. The leg-spinner will have a major wicket-taking role to play against England, who are known for taking on the slower bowlers.
Durham hasn't hosted an international game in over two years, so not much is known about the surface. But England should have the personnel to cruise to a victory against a depleted Sri Lanka side, irrespective of the conditions on offer.
Prediction: England to win the 1st ODI against Sri Lanka