Bairstow says IPL experience key to ace Sri Lanka spin test

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Jonny Bairstow (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Jonny Bairstow (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

England's Jonny Bairstow said Thursday that his experience of facing top spinners in the Indian Premier League has prepared him well for Sri Lanka's pitches ahead of his return to Test cricket.

Bairstow, a regular in the limited-overs England side, last played a five-day game in December 2019 but is expected to make the starting XI in the two-Test series starting in Galle on January 14.

Bairstow, 31, scored a century in his last one-day international and then amassed 345 runs in the IPL Twenty20 tournament for Sunrisers Hyderabad between September-November.

Bairstow said playing top spinners including Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Indian players in the Hyderabad squad for six to eight weeks in the IPL was "great, to be honest".

"Coming into similar conditions, we haven't got a long run-in," the wicketkeeper-batsman told reporters after his team's second training session in Hambantota.

"So calling those experiences, whether that be when we went to Bangladesh, when we went to playing in India or another couple of tours - they all come into it."

Bairstow, who has played 70 Tests at a batting average of under 35, said he enjoys batting at number three but was open to playing in any position in the order.

"I've batted in different places over a period of time. Wherever it is I do bat, if I do get the nod, hopefully I'm well enough equipped to make the best of that opportunity," said Bairstow.

"(The) last time I played in Sri Lanka, I got a hundred batting at three. I think I've batted a few times at three and generally done alright there. If that is the case, then bring it on."

The touring England team have slowly hit pace after an early setback when all-rounder Moeen Ali tested positive for the coronavirus following the team's arrival on Sunday.

Bairstow said team members have stayed in touch with Moeen, who is under isolation, through text messaging.

"Everyone's together. That's been a strength of the team, the unity. It's been a real key throughout this whole period of Covid," he said.

Sri Lanka will be back home Friday after their 2-0 series loss in South Africa, but will not have to undergo the 14-day quarantine as they travel from "bubble to bubble".

Bairstow said living in a bubble was tough, with England slated to play 17 Tests in 2021.

"Hopefully when the vaccine starts getting deployed, it will obviously make things slightly easier," he said. "But bubble life is not easy."

 

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