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Jos Buttler: England have a ‘target on their back’

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Jos Buttler believes England have a ‘target on their backs’ ahead of the upcoming ODI series versus Sri Lanka.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has called on his teammates to keep “pushing boundaries” and believes they are able to deal with the pressure of being the top-ranked side in ODI cricket.

England have won their last eight bilateral ODI series in a row, but were beaten 5-2 by Sri Lanka in 2014, which preceded a sharp turnaround in fortunes under the leadership of Eoin Morgan.

England have undergone a white-ball revolution under Eoin Morgan

Sri Lanka are in a rut having lost 30 of their previous 40 ODIs and recently sacked skipper Angelo Mathews, so often their saviour in the past, for a poor Asia Cup campaign and concerns over his fitness.

Despite that, Buttler knows you can’t take Sri Lanka lightly on their home turf. “There is always pressure being No.1,” said England’s vice-captain ahead of the first ODI in Dambulla. “People want to chase you. Once you get there I think that’s where the hard work really starts because you have a bit of a target on your back.

Olly Stone

Warwickshire fast bowler Olly Stone could make his England debut on Wednesday

“I think a lot of the guys enjoy the pressure in the dressing room. It’s up to you to keep improving and stay there. We need to put no limitation on what we’re capable of.

“We’re happy to be favourites. It shows we’ve been doing good stuff. We’re full of confidence and looking forward to adapting our style of play and pushing the boundaries of what’s capable in these conditions.

“We’re very aware of Sri Lanka’s qualities. They have some experienced players who play well in these conditions. Notoriously it has been tricky in the past for English sides to come here.”

Dinesh Chandimal speaks with coach Chandika Hathurusingha

Sri Lanka’s new captain Dinesh Chandimal, who scored 77 for the Sri Lankan Board XI in Friday’s practice match in Colombo, knows the conditions will work in his side’s favour but acknowledges the strength of their opponent.

“These conditions are very different to what England are used to playing in,” he said. “The pitches here spin and it is not an easy thing to play, especially for the batters.

“Overall comparing our boys to England, they have more experience, but we have more mystery spinners in our side. When the situation comes we have some game plans which we will have to execute.”

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