First Test preview: England v Sri Lanka

England

And so, after months of short format cricket, the hallowed halls of Lord's will once again be home to a five-day match, as England take on Sri Lanka in the first of two Tests, to kick off the northern summer.

And so, after months of short format cricket, the hallowed halls of Lord's will once again be home to a five-day match, as England take on Sri Lanka in the first of two Tests, to kick off the northern summer.

The match holds much intrigue, for various reasons, and the hopes of a win/loss result will be high. The last three times Sri Lanka played a Test at the Home of Cricket, stretching back to 2002, the matches ended in draws.

But this match will have added fire between the players, for a reason some consider silly, after the Mankading of Jos Buttler in the preceding ODI series. The man who did the deed, Sachithra Senanayake, is not in the squad, but tension will be high.

Alastair Cook and Angelo Mathews, the skippers in the ODIs and in this Test, were not overly impressed with each other after that incident, with Cook saying Mathews had 'crossed a line' by not withdrawing the appeal. Hand shakes all round then?

Aside from such frivolities, eyes will be on the England line up, which could hold three Test debutants at this venue for the first time since 1988. Opening batsman Sam Robson is in line to make his England debut, while Moeen Ali and Chris Jordan will likely get their Test caps.

Australia-born Robson cracked the nod ahead of Michael Carberry, who was Cook's partner in the Ashes, after a sterling season for Middlesex last year and this year so far, while Ali will play as the spinning all-rounder he's become for Worcestershire.

Otherwise, England have recalled wicketkeeper Matt Prior to the side, after he was dropped during the Ashes. Jonny Bairstow has thus lost his place, and it will be interesting to see how Prior's Achilles holds up, and if he's managed to find some form in the short time he's been back.

Bowling-wise, Yorkshire paceman Liam Plunkett has been recalled after a cracking season on which he has out-paced the competition. The 29-year-old has not played for England since 2007, and will be desperate to show he deserves a 10th Test cap.

This series will also put a lot of pressure on Cook's shoulders as skipper, as it's the first Test outing since the disastrous Ashes whitewash in Australia. He's got a new-look team on his hands, a new head coach, and a desperately supportive fan base.

As for Sri Lanka, they are without fast bowler Suranga Lakmal, who did well the last time the sides faced each other at Lord's in 2011. He is injured and due back for the second Test, thus Chanaka Welegedara has been called up. He last played for Sri Lanka in 2012, but took five wickets here last time out.

The batting line up is without Tillakaratne Dilshan, who no longer plays Tests, but stalwarts Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are on hand to provide the backbone, while Lahiru Thirimanne, Mathews and Kaushal Silva provide the form and fire.

All that is to be seen is how well the visitors cope with the conditions, with overhead cover and chilly temperatures forecast for much of the game. They did well in their tour match against Northants, with most getting a few runs at least, so should be acclimatised.

<b>Key Men</b><br>For the hosts, eyes will be on batsman Ian Bell. The ECB Cricketer of the Year is under pressure because he made three tons in three Tests the last time they played at home, and he will need to be the anchor if the openers fail.

Sri Lanka will look to one of their legends, Kumar Sangakkara, for their fortunes. He has been in the UK for a while, playing for Durham before this tour, and scored a ton for them, as well as one in the ODI series. Class and form combined.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012 Second Test: England won by eight wickets in Colombo<br>2012 First Test: Sri Lanka won by 75 runs in Galle<br>2011 Third Test: Match drawn in Southampton<br>2011 Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's<br>2011 First Test: England won by an innings and 14 runs at Cardiff

<b>Squads</b><br><i>England:</i> Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Gary Ballance, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Matt Prior, Sam Robson, Joe Root, Chris Woakes

<i>Sri Lanka:</i> Angelo Mathews (captain), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayawardene, Prasanna Jayawardene, Dimuth Karunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dilruwan Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad, Kumar Sangakkara, Kaushal Silva, Chanaka Welegedara.

<b>Dates:</b> 12 to 16 June<br><b>Morning session:</b> 11:00-13:00 (10:00-12:00 GMT)<br><b>Afternoon session:</b> 13:40-15:40 (14:40-16:40 GMT)<br><b>Evening session:</b> 16:00-18:00 (15:00-17:00 GMT)<br><b>On-field umpires:</b> Paul Reiffel and Billy Bowden <br><b>Third umpire:</b> Steve Davis<br><b>Match referee:</b> Andy Pycroft

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