Team Buttler to face Team Root as England step up Sri Lanka preparations with warm-up match

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Team Root will meet Team Buttler as England hold a two-day intra-squad warm-up in Hambantota ahead of next week’s First Test against Sri Lanka.

England underwent a third round of Covid-19 testing since arriving in Sri Lanka on Sunday and if there are no further positives this gentle trundle should go ahead.

Moeen Ali, who tested positive on arrival, and Chris Woakes, deemed a close contact having travelled from Birmingham to Heathrow with him, are unavailable as they isolate, but England still have 22 players to pick from.

Ollie Pope’s involvement is a surprise, given he is not in the squad or even a member of the reserve party. He is with the squad as he recovers from a shoulder injury, with a view to playing in India next month. But Pope will bat for Team Buttler (he is unlikely to field much, given he has twice seriously damaged his left shoulder diving in the field).

The two teams are bowler-heavy, with Dom Bess and Craig Overton batting as high as No6 for each side.

Jonny Bairstow looks set to bat No3 in the First Test at Galle next week and fills that position for Team Buttler, while Dan Lawrence will be looking to force his way into the side from No4 for Team Root.

With Moeen out, legspinners Mason Crane and Matt Parkinson will be looking to stake a claim to step up from the reserve bench.

Competition among the seamers is fierce, with Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Mark Wood, Olly Stone and Sam Curran the most realistic contenders for a maximum of three spots. Woakes will lack time to get up to speed.

The format of the game is not yet totally clear, but with poor weather forecast on Saturday, the second day, it is likely that each team will bat for 50 overs on Friday.

Team Root: Crawley, Bracey, Root, Lawrence, Foakes, Overton, Robinson, Leach, Wood, Anderson, Parkinson

Team Buttler: Sibley, Pope, Bairstow, Buttler, Curran, Bess, Stone, Broad, Mahmood, Crane, Virdi

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