Following England's defeat to Sri Lanka in the only T20 on Tuesday, the 50-over series begins at The Oval on Thursday with Alastair Cook back in front of a home crowd for the first time since last summer's Ashes.
Match: England vs. Sri Lanka, 1st ODI
Date: 22 May 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. BST
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (UK)
Weather: Expect rain to play a part during the course of the match. The BBC has forecast afternoon showers, which could result in both a rain-shortened game and a huge advantage to the team bowling first when the match does get underway.
England's cautious batting approach is better suited to the 50-over format than the shorter 20-over bash, which ought help the home side.
That said, The Oval—traditionally a batting paradise—is sure to have plenty of runs in store.
The match will see the return of England Test and ODI captain Cook, and after fielding another set of difficult questions regarding the fallout from the Kevin Pietersen saga and having ECB Chairman Giles Clarke publicly defend him, the spotlight will be on the left-handed captain.
More broadly speaking, this match will mark the beginning of England's nitty-gritty preparations for the World Cup, which is now just eight months away.
England will be looking to hone their preferred squad and starting 11 over the course of the coming months.
The batsmen are largely experienced and reliable, if not explosive. Cook, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler form its spine.
The bowlers, missing attack leader Stuart Broad in this series, are far more of a concern, but the situation provides an opportunity for new players to prove themselves.
Sri Lanka are generally in pretty good shape. Regulars at the latter stages of limited-overs events, and boosted by the return of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, they look as formidable as ever.
This match may largely be dictated by conditions. While the pitch itself will carry runs, the atmospheric conditions could be England's best hope. If the balls swing around under cloudy skies and the hosts make inroads into Sri Lanka's deep and high-quality batting, Cook's men may have a chance of breaching the gulf in class.
If not, it could be another chastening evening for new coach Peter Moores' charges.
It sounds obvious, but all eyes are on Alastair Cook. He has been backed and backed again despite the Ashes fallout, in which senior batsmen, coaches and selectors have all moved on. If the decision to support him is to be borne out, his captaincy and batting must show rapid signs of improvement, and his vision for the team become clear quickly.
Lasith Malinga was the star of the show in the T20 on Tuesday, but in a 10-over stint expect Nuwan Kulasekara to come into his own. 163 wickets at 32.74 in ODIs may not look outstanding, but he's played the overwhelming majority of his cricket on subcontinental wickets that are unhelpful to his fast-medium seam bowling. Here, with the elements in his favour, he could come into his own.
AN Cook*, JM Anderson, GS Ballance, IR Bell, RS Bopara, TT Bresnan, JC Buttler†, MA Carberry, HF Gurney, CJ Jordan, EJG Morgan, JE Root, JC Tredwell and CR Woakes
AD Mathews*, HDRL Thirimanne, LD Chandimal†, PC de Silva, TM Dilshan, DPMD Jayawardene, KMDN Kulasekara, RAS Lakmal, SL Malinga, BAW Mendis, MDKJ Perera†, NLTC Perera, KTGD Prasad, SMA Priyanjan,KC Sangakkara and SMSM Senanayake
Squads and data via ESPNCricinfo
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