Sri Lanka bat first, missing Dimuth Karunaratne, Suranga Lakmal

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England give debut to Dan Lawrence, prefer Stuart Broad to James Anderson

Toss Sri Lanka chose to bat vs England

Sri Lanka have been hit by injury to their captain, Dimuth Karunaratne, on the opening morning of the Test series against England.

Karunaratne is understood to have sustained a broken thumb in training and has, as a result, been forced out of the match and, in all probability, the series. The incident sustains a grim run for Sri Lanka with injuries in recent weeks, with seamer Suranga Lakmal among those who are also unavailable.

With Karunaratne out, Dinesh Chandimal will captain Sri Lanka. Chandimal at least started well enough, winning the toss and opting to bat first in Galle. While a straightforward enough decision – the pitch at Galle is expected to offer substantial turn as the match wears on – with the area hit by unseasonable rain in recent days, there might be a little assistance for England’s bowlers in the first session.

Karunaratne’s absence also ensured a spot for Lahiru Thirimanne and the retention of Kusal Mendis, who suffered three successive ducks on the recently concluded tour of Sri Lanka.

Dan Lawrence, meanwhile, wins a debut for England. He was presented with cap No. 697 by his former Essex captain, James Foster, minutes before the toss. Foster is with the squad in the role of wicketkeeping consultant.

As expected, England opted for two specialist spinners, in Dom Bess and Jack Leach. Stuart Broad, England’s top wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2020, was preferred to James Anderson for selection, with Mark Wood providing some pace and Sam Curran some swing and left-arm variation. England have lost the first Test in five of their last six series.

With Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali all absent for various reasons and Ben Foakes not selected despite being player of the series on England’s last tour of Sri Lanka, it means there are only four survivors in their team from the side that won in Sri Lanka in 2018.

England were due to wear black armbands in memory of John Edrich, Robin Jackman and Dom Smith, all former England Test cricketers who sadly passed away recently.

Sri Lanka: 1 Lahiru Thirimanne, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Kusal Mendis, 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 7 Dasun Shanaka, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Dilruwan Perera, 10 Lasith Embuldeniya, 11 Asitha Fernando

England: 1 Dom Sibley, 2 Zak Crawley, 3 Jonny Bairstow, 4 Joe Root (capt.), 5 Dan Lawrence, 6 Jos Buttler 7 Sam Curran, 8 Dom Bess, 9 Jack Leach 10 Mark Wood 11 Stuart Broad

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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