PALLEKELE: Ben Foakes retained the wicket-keeper’s position after his dream debut in Galle as England named an unchanged XI for the second Test against Sri Lanka, which starts on Wednesday in Pallekele.
The tourists’ batting order is set to be re-jigged, though, with Ben Stokes replacing Moeen Ali, who managed zero and three in Galle, at number three, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on its website.
Moeen, who claimed eight wickets in the series opener which England won by 211 runs inside four days, will bat at number six instead.
With Jonny Bairstow fit and available for selection after sitting out of the series opener with an ankle injury, England captain Joe Root had faced a selection dilemma for the second game at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Replacing the injured Bairstow at Galle, Foakes’ century on debut and tidy glovework behind the stumps eventually clinched it in his favour.
His 107 in the first innings was key to England’s comprehensive victory, also earning him the man-of-the-match award.
“Ben is going to keep,” Root said in comments published by The Independent before the team was announced. “We’ve come to Sri Lanka to win this tour. And in these conditions, I think Ben is the best option behind the stumps.
“It’s a great opportunity for Ben to show his ability, and I think you’ve got to reward a performance like last week.”
Root said his Yorkshire team-mate Bairstow, who has strengthened England’s lower-middle order with his batting and worked hard on his wicket-keeping, still had a role to play in the Test side.
“Jonny is a fine keeper and what he’s done over the last couple of years has been exceptional,” Root added. “He’s pretty much been faultless, not really stood out at all, which is probably a good thing for a wicketkeeper, and long-term I see him as a focal part of the Test team.”
Sri Lanka face a difficult task to stay alive in the three-Test series, having lost spinner Rangana Herath to retirement and skipper Dinesh Chandimal to a groin injury.
To make it worse, spinner Akila Dananjaya has been reported for a suspect bowling action, though he is free to play, while paceman Lahiru Kumara has been dropped from the squad for breaking team curfew.
Meanwhile, Root had words of sympathy for Dananjaya.
“It is an unfortunate thing he has to deal with,” said Root. “Ultimately for us we played him at Galle pretty well throughout the last game.
“If you see anyone with a question mark by their action, you hope they get through and it doesn’t hamper their career. It is never nice to see.” Root said the suspect action had not shocked him.
“It didn’t really stand out to me personally,” he added.
“It doesn’t matter what his action is like, it’s how we play him. It’s how it comes down to us playing the ball, being skilful enough to react to the delivery on the surface.”
The match umpires reported Dananjaya’s action after the first Test.
Under ICC rules Dananjaya must undergo testing at an approved ICC centre within two weeks and he is expected to fly to Australia as soon as the second Test ends.
“There are no ICC rules saying he cannot play,” said Suranga Lakmal, who will captain Sri Lanka in the absence of injured Dinesh Chandimal. “He can still play and he’s in a good mentality, he will still play the next match and correct his mistake.”
SRI LANKA (from): Suranga Lakmal (captain), Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Malinda Pushpakumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha.
ENGLAND: Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes, Joe Root (captain), Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa) and Sundaram Ravi (India).
TV umpire: Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand).
Match referee: Any Pycroft (Zimbabwe).
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018