Test cricket is back as England lock horns with Sri Lanka in the first of the three-match series at Headingley in Leeds on Thursday. Both teams have enjoyed a month's break, after the conclusion of the ICC World T20 2016, which was held in India and now it is time for some action with the red cherry.
Sri Lanka are yet to recover from the losses of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who have retired from the game. Angelo Mathews and co. are still getting used to life without their legends.
The last time these two sides met, it was at the same venue, when Sri Lanka created history after winning their first ever Test series against the hosts England. After that loss, Alastair Cook's captaincy was vastly criticised and he almost resigned as the skipper of the England cricket team.
But, two years have passed and England have done exceptionally well to become a Test force again, especially at home.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka have struggled in almost all formats of the game, especially Tests. Last year, they lost a home series to a Virat Kohli-led young India side. Then they were bullied by New Zealand at their home. Now, they will be up against a roaring England cricket team.
The point of concern for the visitors will be the lack of experience in their side. Sri Lanka captain Mathews and Rangana Herath are the only two players in the squad, who have played more than 30 Test matches. It will also be difficult to acclimatise to the English conditions straight away, but the visitors did play a couple of practice matches against Essex and Leicestershire ahead of the first Test in Leeds.
Mathews is hopeful that his team can put up a good show against England in this Test series.
"We've got lots of new players, but also 7 or 8 who were there in the 2014 tour. We've got a fearless set of players who are willing to take the English on," Mathews was quoted as saying by Cricinfo.
"We all know that you can't get comfortable in England straightaway. You've got to work your way through, so experience also counts. We've got so many guys who are touring England for the first time with the national team."
"But no matter how long you spend in the cold you can never get used to it. We've had a few good days in Essex and also in Leicester, where the sun was out. Hopefully the nice weather will come back to us. Whether it's the cold weather or the sunny weather, we do have to take on the challenge. The weather will be our main challenge."
Meanwhile, the England skipper Cook needs just 36 more runs to become the first English batsman to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket. He will also be the youngest player to reach the landmark, with it beating the record held by Sahin Tendulkar.
"It would mean a lot and hopefully I can get there sooner rather than later so we can talk about something else. It's a big milestone in terms of the people who have done it previously so it would be great to try and score these 36 runs," Cook told Cricinfo.
" I've just got to put that to bed after this press conference and try and do what I've done in the previous 10 years, which is just try and concentrate on that ball coming down and nothing else."
Probable XI's: England (confirmed): Alastair Cook (c), Alex Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Vince, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steve Finn.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews (C), Milinda Siriwardana, Dasun Shanaka, Rangana Herath, Dushmantha Chameera, Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal.
Where to watch live:
The first day of the first Test match between England and Sri Lanka in Leeds is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. local time (10:00 a.m GMT, 15:30 p.m. IST and 6:00 a.m. EST). Live coverage of England vs Sri Lanka first Test match in India will be on Star Sports 1 and Star Sports HD 1. The live streaming option will be available on Starsports.com.
UK viewers can tune into Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports HD 2 to watch England vs Sri Lanka 1st Test Day 1 live. Watch Sky Sports will stream the match live in UK as well.
Audience in the US can switch to ESPN3 for the live coverage of England vs Sri Lanka 1st Test Day 1 and stream the same on Watch ESPN.