Sri Lanka look to close the gap on England in T20I series

Picture courtesy: Getty Images. Eoin Morgan and Kusal Perera pose with the trophy

 reports on espncricinfo

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

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.
England narrowly lost their last T20 series, going down 3-2 to India, but it’s unlikely they begin this series with serious trepidation. This is despite the fact they do not have Jofra Archer (who was their top wicket-taker in India) or Ben Stokes, due to injury. On top of everything else, many of their cricketers have also been primed in the T20 Blast, while Sri Lanka have merely had a couple of low-key intra-squad games. Such is the volatility Sri Lanka bring, they cannot be ruled out altogether. But if they are to make a fist of this series, they will have to spring a series of surprises.