COLOMBO, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Joe Root continued what has become almost a test match ritual of late when the England captain won his eighth successive toss on Friday before electing to bat in the third and final encounter against Sri Lanka.
England also batted first in the first two tests in Galle and Pallekele, which they won to take an unassailable lead in the series.
“Batting first gives us the best opportunity to get ahead of the game,” Root said at the toss after having a look at the dry pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
The tourists brought in seamer Stuart Broad for the rested James Anderson, while Jonny Bairstow replaced injured all-rounder Sam Curran, who is out with a side strain.
Regular wicketkeeper Bairstow, who missed the first test due to an ankle injury, will play as a specialist batsman at number three with Ben Foakes retaining the gloves in his third test after also impressing with the bat.
Suranga Lakmal will continue to lead the hosts in absence of regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal, who has not recovered from a groin injury.
Sri Lanka are also without spinner Akila Dananjaya, who took eight wickets in Pallekele but is having his bowling action assessed in Australia this week after being reported for a suspect action during the Galle loss.
He was replaced by Lakshan Sandakan while Danushka Gunathilaka substituted opener Kaushal Silva.
“It’s a spinning wicket, I hope our mindset is good,” said Lakmal.
England: Rory Burns, Keaton Jennings, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root (captain), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Ben Foakes (wicketkeeper), Adil Rashid, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wicketkeeper), Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal (captain), Lakshan Sandakan, Malinda Pushpakumara (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Nick Mulvenney)