England v Sri Lanka 2014

A look ahead to England's ODI tour of Sri Lanka.

England cricket team bring their 2014 to a close as they head to a small corner of South Asia to take on Sri Lanka.

Alastair Cook's men face a series of one day internationals (ODI) over the next four weeks providing not only an opportunity to end the year on a high but also to prepare for the 2015 ICC World Cup. England have endured a fairly disappointing past 12 months but managed to regain a slice of form as they overcame India to win the Test on home soil.

They now travel to Sri Lanka to gain some momentum going into the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in February. A positive performance in South Asia will offer some redemption for Cook who faced criticism throughout the year. A lot of attention will also be focused on the likes of Moeen Ali, Joe Root and Ian Bell who could prove crucial to England's performance in the ODIs.

Here is our guide to England's tour of Sri Lanka.

The year so far

England started 2014 with a humbling tour of Australia. A 5-0 whitewash in the 2013/14 Ashes capped off a thoroughly miserable winter as England folded Down Under losing the fifth Test in just three days. They went on to lose the ODI series against their Australian counterparts and capped off a demoralising tour with yet another whitewash defeat, this time in Twenty20 action.

Under the captaincy of Stuart Broad, England travelled to the West Indies and faired much better than in Oz. The winning feeling returned to the side as they claimed a 2-1 ODI series win over the Windies with Joe Root starring. The Yorkshireman excelled in the third match in Antigua hitting 107 runs off 122 balls, giving the tourists the victory.

West Indies hit back in the Twenty20 series with a 2-1 win. However, the winter gloom did not shift and England had a World Twenty20 to forget and were dumped out at the group stages having won just one game. They even suffered the ignominy of losing by 45 runs to minnows Netherlands.

Further Test series defeats against Sri Lanka piled pressure onto Alastair Cook but a morale boosting victory against India has relieved some pressure on the beleaguered captain. However, there will be no let up when England begin in Sri Lanka.

Opponent watch

In contrast to England, Sri Lanka have enjoyed an excellent 2014. Not only did they beat England in a Test series but they also picked up the World Twenty20 title. Sri Lanka were in inspired form in the Bangladesh-hosted tournament advancing through the group stages and then scoring a commanding victory over the West Indies in the semi-finals.

The final saw Sri Lanka make short work of India winning by six wickets and giving them their first World Twenty20 title. England will be well aware of Sri Lanka's capabilities having been on the receiving end of Test series victory during the summer.

Sri Lanka secured a 1-0 series win with just one ball to spare at Headingley which brought a close to a pulsating Test. James Anderson was the England villain as he was caught at leg gully off Shaminda Eranga meaning they were unable to save the series. The win completed a clean sweep for Sri Lanka against England it Test, Twenty20 and ODI.

Key players

All the talk in the build-up to England's tour of Sri Lanka is the form of Moeen Ali. The batsman and off-spin bowler has been highlighted as a potential solution to England's opening batting conundrum. Moeen has already started the tour in a formidable fashion scoring a half century off just 21 balls in a warm-up victory over Sri Lanka A.

It is not just with the bat that Moeen has excelled as the Worcestershire man also took three wickets in the comfortable victory. A lot of England's success could be pinned on the success of Moeen but, for now, he just wants to embrace the experience of playing Test cricket for his cricket.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Moeen said after the warm-up match: "I just go out and enjoy my cricket. Today came off brilliantly, other days it won't. I know a lot of people haven't seen me opening the batting, but when I do, that's how I play. Obviously some days I won't be as explosive."

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