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Match Preview – England vs Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka in England 2021, 1st T20I

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Back-to-back Cardiff matches a stern test of leadership and a gauge of where SL are as a T20 side

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Since the start of 2019, England have won 16 T20 internationals to the eight they have lost. In the same period, Sri Lanka have lost 14, winning just five. England are the top-ranked T20 side, while Sri Lanka are eighth. And while England had been runners-up at the most-recent T20 world event, Sri Lanka are required to qualify for the main draw of the next major tournament. There would, in short, seem to be a gulf betweeen these teams.

Partly this is down to leadership. Eoin Morgan has been England’s most successful white-ball captain, and has done the job since 2015. Although Sri Lanka won the World T20 in 2014, they have rifled through leaders in the last five years, with Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Thisara Perera (none of whom are even in this current squad), and Dasun Shanaka having led. Now they line up behind Kusal Perera, who is the only surviving member of that World T20 champion side.

Although he has not been consistently impressive himself in the past few years, he has a daunting assignment ahead of him now. The back-to-back matches at Cardiff will not only be a stern test of his leadership, but an indication of where Sri Lanka are as a T20 side. A full-strength Sri Lanka side has not played since before the pandemic.

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