Sri Lanka Buoyed By Opening Win Over England!
Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu believes his side can derive huge confidence from their Twenty20 win over England ahead of the one-day international and Test matches on the rest of their tour.
Previous Sri Lankan sides have found early season conditions in England not to their liking but the reigning World Twenty20 champions showed few signs of discomfort in seeing off England — the only team that beat them on the way to the title in Bangladesh this year — by nine runs at The Oval on Tuesday.
They return to the south London ground for the first of a five-match one-day international series on Thursday where the likes of all-rounder Thisara Perera and slingshot seamer Lasith Malinga will be keen to repeat their success in Tuesday’s match.
“To come and beat England in England was a great thing,” former Sri Lanka batsman Atapattu said Wednesday.
“We needed that win to tell ourselves we are good enough to compete against these guys on their home soil.”
England are still struggling to come to terms with their 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia and, with the return of Peter Moores as coach allied to several backroom and personnel changes, are far from being a settled side.
“From England’s point of view, they have gone through a couple of shaky series and have a new management and a couple of new players,” Atapattu said Wednesday. “They could be different in their approach.
“But we are most concerned with how we perform in English conditions to meet the challenge.”
Atapattu used to bat with dynamic Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya, whose whirlwind approach revolutionised the way teams went about run-scoring at the start of a one-day innings.
But in an era of two white balls an innings, Atapattu said it was perfectly possible for more orthodox batsmen such as England captain Alastair Cook to score heavily in the one-day game.
And he warned that batsmen were generally better off playing to their own strengths rather than trying to bat like Jayasuriya if that wasn’t their normal style.
“There are a couple of times Alastair has done that,” he said.
“Not too many batsmen have done it as consistently as Sanath did.
“But I won’t be surprised if somebody hits form. Why not? With field restrictions, fast outfields and good pitches, batsmen have more chances to be like Sanath these days.
“Modern-day cricket…encourages and needs someone to be explosive.
“But it has to come naturally to you, be inherent. It’s not something you can bring out in a day or two.”
Someone who is a naturally big-hitter is England’s Alex Hales.
He proved that in spectacular fashion when he became the first England batsman to score a Twenty20 international century in the win over Sri Lanka at the World Twenty20.
He followed that up with a brisk fifty on Tuesday but the Nottinghamshire opener is not a member of England’s squad for 50-over cricket.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, for one, was taken aback by Hales’s omission.
“I was a bit surprised (he was not in the ODI squad),” the all-rounder said. “Alex has been playing really well and has scored a lot of runs against us.
“But England have a really good batting line-up. Without Alex, they’ve got seven or eight really good batsmen and we’ve got to deal with them all.”