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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 15 October 2018

England happy with 'favourites' tag ahead of first ODI against Sri Lanka

World No 1 side have won only six of their 21 one-day internationals on the island, with a solitary series victory in 2007

Jos Buttler says he is happy for England to go into their ODI series against hosts Sri Lanka as favourites. Reuters
Jos Buttler says he is happy for England to go into their ODI series against hosts Sri Lanka as favourites. Reuters

Jos Buttler is happy to shed England's underdog tag in Sri Lanka, insisting the tourists are "full of confidence" on the eve of the series.

England have won only six of their 21 one-day internationals on the island, with a solitary series victory in 2007.

But their own world No 1 status, allied to their hosts' dire run of results in the format, mean they head into Wednesday's opening match in Dambulla well fancied.

"I'm very happy to be favourites, that goes with playing some good stuff," Buttler said.

"I like being favourites, it shows we're playing well. It's been tricky in the past for England sides to come here but we're full of confidence and looking forward to the challenge."

Buttler, Eoin Morgan's vice-captain, is also content with England's acclimatisation despite losing one of their two warm-up games to rain.

"We've actually been quite lucky, we've had a couple of good practice days before the warm-ups and we managed to dodge the rain yesterday for a good practice too," he said.

"It was nice to get a win in the warm-up game because we spoke a lot about them being an extension of the series - it's about winning games of cricket."

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Morgan's leadership has been instrumental in England's rise from World Cup also-rans in 2015 to the world No 1 spot.

He is also England's top-scorer in ODI cricket and a popular captain but he surprisingly floated the possibility of removing himself from the first XI if his form fell away.

Alex Hales looks likely to miss out on Wednesday, and Morgan insisted he would not cling to a place in the team if it hampered the greater good.

Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket, he said: "When you drop yourself as captain it almost sets that example, that nobody's place is cemented in this side."

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Morgan attracted criticism from some, including former England captain Michael Vaughan, when he stepped aside from a Twenty20 decider against South Africa in 2017 to take a look at the likes of Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan.

The 32-year-old Irishman, though, is clear that he must continue putting the greater good first.

"In the past I've dropped myself to create opportunities for guys in order to see if they can play at international level or give them an extra chance to prove themselves," he said.

"We're trying to build a squad of 16 or 17 guys to win the World Cup, that's the objective. It's not an individual trying to get runs, not an individual trying to get wickets. It's a team collective and everyone needs to buy into it."