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5 things to know about England-Sri Lanka 2nd test

June 18, 2014

The first test between England and Sri Lanka at Lord’s went down to the final ball, as tailender Nuwan Pradeep survived five deliveries in the last over to deny Stuart Broad his wicket and England a much-needed victory.

The teams have moved north to Leeds, where the final test in the two-match series starts on Friday. Here are five things to know about the match:

WINNER TAKES ALL: Alastair Cook and England seek a victory to boost their rebuilding after the sour winter in Australia and for the upcoming five-match test series against India. For counterpart captain Angelo Mathews, he could be the first man to lead Sri Lanka to a test series victory in England.

GOT TO BOWL QUICKER: The 17 overs lost at Lord’s by slow over rates made a huge difference, especially for England, which would have loved to have had more overs to bowl at Pradeep on the final day. Sri Lanka wasn’t fined for the slow rates but England was. More importantly, Cook can’t afford a repeat within the next 12 months, as he’s under threat of suspension for one test if the rate doesn’t improve. With four fast bowlers and no specialist spinner, England must find the right balance quickly, or Cook could miss the first test against India next month.

P. JAYAWARDENE AND LAKMAL OUT: Sri Lanka is without its wicketkeeper for the second test. Prasanna Jayawardene has returned home after injuring his finger, and he is replaced by left-handed batsman Kithruwan Vithanage. At the start of the second day, Jayawardene went for an X-ray and Kaushal Silva kept wicket for the first two overs, but Kumar Sangakkara is another option. Bowler Suranga Lakmal is also expected to miss out because of the right hamstring injury which ruled him out at Lord’s.

ROBSON NEEDS A BIG INNINGS: England gave debuts to three players at Lord’s: Chris Jordan and Moeen Ali impressed but opening batsman Sam Robson struggled. He made bad choices in his dismissals, and only 20 runs over two innings on a docile pitch at his home ground. Robson can hardly be any worse in Leeds.

CAPTAINS OF CONTRAST: Cook made only 17 and 28 at Lord’s. He’s gone 22 innings since his 25th and last century, against New Zealand at Headingley more than a year ago, and the captaincy looks to be weighing him down. Mathews, however, has thrived with the added pressure. In the first test, he fired 102 for his third test century, and while he made only 18 in the second innings, it was from 90 balls in a stay of more than two hours, as he helped his team hold on for the draw.

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