The opening T20I went pretty much as most of us expected it to. Sri Lanka won the toss … because gods would want them to win something on this tour and it can’t be the matches. Then, they opted to bat first, which is what most South Asian teams unsure of their batting strength do on tours of England or anywhere where the wickets support fast bowling.
Then, almost as if they were following a plan titled “how to fail in England”, the islanders lost their first wicket in the second over, with Avishka Fernando vanishing for a zilch. As it does to most teams afraid of batting meltdowns in unchartered territories, the wicket slowed down the pace of runs scoring and the Lankan batsmen were content at operating at ODI pace in a T20I match.
At the halfway mark, Sri Lanka were 57/4 and the match was already pretty much over.
In the end, the tourists managed 129-7, which proved a walk-in-the-park total for the hosts.
What would disappoint Sri Lanka is that they lost three of their seven wickets to spin bowlers. Traditionally, Sri Lankans have been one of the better batsmen against spin. Without any practice matches, it was justified for them to struggle against English pacers but they should have negotiated their way out of Adil Rashid and Liam Livingstone better.
In the second T20I, conventional wisdom suggests that instead of chopping and changing too much, teams should stick with what they have and let the players get familiar with the conditions. Let’s see what Mickey Arthur and co does tonight.
England sent out a pretty strong playing eleven in the opening T20I and might have since realized that they did not need to do it. Any 11 random English players would have probably been enough to get the job done against a Sri Lanka side that has been in transition for a good five years now and is now a shadow of the side that was a heavy hitter all through the 1990s and 2000s.
Just a few balls into the first T20I, the English were pretty much assured of being 1-0 up by the end of the night. The Sri Lankan body language had prophesied the story of the match, and probably even the entire series/tour.
The bowlers hardly had to break a sweat as Sri Lankan batters crumbled on their own. Then, in the run chase, England were 27-0 after three overs and 83-1 at the halfway mark. Jos Buttler, as we had predicted, was enjoying shellacking the bowlers of his favourite T20I opposite and finished with an unbeaten 68 off 55, which was a bit pedestrian by his standards but still.
England, too, do not need to make any changes, unless they want to intentionally weaken themselves to make a match out of the second T20I.