London, Jun 23 : After being outplayed in the test series by England, Sri Lanka is expected to put up a much better fight in its tour-ending limited-overs matches that begin Saturday with a Twenty20 international at Bristol.
The Sri Lankans were lucky to escape with a 1-0 loss in the rain-disrupted three-match series, their bowling attack sorely missing spin great Muttiah Muralitharan and fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who have both quit test cricket in the past year.
However, buoyed by the return of Malinga and their recent run to the World Cup final, which included a 10-wicket hammering of England in the quarterfinals, the tourists will be a different proposition in the shorter formats.
They could also have captain Tillakaratne Dilshan back from a broken thumb that caused him to miss the drawn third test in Southampton.
“We are leaving it until the last minute with his thumb, and we'll take a decision then,” Sri Lanka team manager Anura Tennakoon told The Associated Press.
Veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya's brief comeback to the Sri Lanka squad for the Twenty20 international and first game of a five-match one-day series will also add an interesting subplot.
Jayasuriya, the second-highest runscorer in the history of one-day cricket, was picked for the entire ODI series but said he will retire after the first match, at The Oval on June 28 -- two days before his 42nd birthday. It will end a distinguished 22-year international career.
He warmed up for his farewell appearances on the international stage by making 78 from 60 balls on Wednesday in the Sri Lankans' victory over county side Worcestershire in a tour match.
His quickfire knock included 10 fours and three sixes, indicating he could be a danger when he plays his first ODI since December 2009.
England has won its last five test series and has an eye on No. 1 spot in the rankings ahead of the four-match series against India later this summer.
The team is also world T20 champions but has struggled in the one-day format in recent years, losing to Ireland in the group stages of the World Cup before a sorry elimination at the hands of Sri Lanka.
In a bid to freshen up the leadership of their three teams, paceman Stuart Broad was appointed as the new captain of the T20 side and in-form opener Alastair Cook will be in charge of the ODI team, replacing test captain Andrew Strauss in the role.
The upcoming matches will provide the first test of their leadership credentials, although Cook was in charge of England on a temporary basis for last year's tour of Bangladesh.
Test wicketkeeper Matt Prior and veteran allrounder Paul Collingwood, who has only recently returned from injury, were dropped from both squads, with big-hitting opener Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel recalled.
The last of Patel's 11 one-day caps came in November 2008 but he has worked hard to improve his fitness levels.
Sri Lanka allrounder Angelo Mathews missed the test series with a leg injury but is back fit, making 81 against Worcestershire. The balance he provides will greatly benefit the tourists, as will the possible return of Dilshan.
“We hope he is fit because the way he is batting, I think he'll be the key factor for us to winning the ODI series,” said Sri Lanka batsman and former captain Kumar Sangakkara. “For him to be back leading us on the field will be good for all of us and Dilsh.”
Dhammika Prasad was a late call-up for injured bowler Dilhara Fernando.
Twenty20: Stuart Broad (captain), Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright
ODIs: Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Chris Woakes.
Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan (captain), Thilina Kandamby, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Sanath Jayasuriya, Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Tissara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Suranga Lakmal, Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis. AP