Leeds: Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews won the toss and elected to field in the first Test against England at Headingley on Thursday.
The tourists’ skipper clearly hoped his bowlers could take advantage of overcast conditions that threatened to make batting difficult in the first of this three-match series.
His decision gave England captain Alastair Cook a chance Thursday to become the first Englishman to score 10,000 Test runs in Tests, with the left-handed opener needing 36 more runs to become just the 12th batsman in history to reach the landmark.
England had named their side on Wednesday, with uncapped Nottinghamshire paceman Jake Ball left out from a 12-man squad and Steven Finn preferred as third seamer in an attack led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad — the world’s number one ranked Test bowler.
Hampshire batsman James Vince, was given a Test debut following the enforced retirement of James Taylor with a heart condition.
Sri Lanka were returning to the scene of their 100-run win off the penultimate ball in 2014 that gave them their first Test series win in England in a match where Mathews scored a Test-best 160.
Their team contained eight survivors from that match, with batting greats Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene now retired and fast bowler Dhammika Prasad, who took five second-innings wickets, injured.
Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera came in for Prasad, who was unlikely to play any part in this series after being sent home following a shoulder injury sustained in the tour opener against Essex at Chelmsford.
Sri Lanka gave a Test debut to Dasun Shanaka, who made a hundred in the recent tour match against Leicestershire.
This Test also marked the first fixture of the inaugural ‘Super Series’, with matches in all formats between England and Sri Lanka carrying points to produce an overall winner.
Players from both sides wore back armbands in memory of all those killed by recent flooding and landslides in Sri Lanka.
At least 38 people have died on the island in weather-related disasters since the weekend.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Alex Hales, Nick Compton, Joe Root, James Vince, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wkt, Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dasun Shanaka, Rangana Herath, Dushmantha Chameera, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV umpire: S Ravi (IND)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)
Weather: Overcast 13C, 50 percent chance of rain
Pitch conditions: Green-tinged surface offered hope of seam movement but grey skies above Headingley traditionally give bowlers more assistance than a fundamentally good pitch. Quick outfield should see batsmen get full value for their shots.