Having defended a modest total of 142 against the inexperienced Afghanistan, England returns to the Ferozeshah Kotla here looking to nail a struggling Sri Lanka in their World T20 clash on Saturday.
Second in the group after two wins from three outings, England begins as the favourite after its bowlers came good for the first time in the competition on Wednesday.
Knowing that Sri Lanka, the defending champion, is a playing far from its best, England is looking to improve upon its unfavourable head-to-head record of 2-4.
Nothing has really gone Lanka’s way, whether in the recent Asia Cup in Dhaka or during its title-defence (save a none-too-impressive win over Afghanistan) in this competition. No doubt, it will take a huge effort from the islanders to deny England two more points, knowing that a defeat on Saturday will mean no getting past the league stage.
England’s batting came good against West Indies and South Africa before the bowlers redeemed themselves in the third match when facing minnows Afghanistan.
Sri Lanka will draw some hope from how the top-order England batsmen came a cropper against the Afghan spinners. England needs no reminding that the quality of spinners in the Sri Lankan line-up is superior to those from Afghanistan. With this being the last league match for England, Eoin Morgan’s men have no choice but to look to improve its poor net run-rate (NRR) so far in the competition. In this group, there is every possibility of two or more teams ending up with six points each.
In such a scenario, the NRR will come into play. For the record, at present, West Indies (0.89) and South Africa (0.85) are way ahead of England (0.02). Joe Root, the man in form, was candid in his assessment of the team on Friday.
“We’ve not performed at our best throughout the competition, which in a way is quite exciting because we know that’s still to come.
“The really pleasing thing for me is we’re finding ways of winning games of cricket.
“If we’re being honest, we’ve not done one part of our game consistently well. At times we’ve bowled extremely well and at times we’ve batted well. When that comes together we’ll be a very hard side to beat.”
England’s batsmen can be expected to make amends for their poor showing against Afghanistan. It remains to be seen how well Sri Lankan spinners bowl to the Englishmen on the Kotla pitch.
Lanka depends much on Dinesh Chandimal to get a good start. Experienced campaigners like Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews have not served the team as well as expected while the pace bowlers have been make to look ordinary. Among the spinners, the seasoned left-arm Rangana Herath and young leg-spinner Jeffery Vandersay are yet to make an impression. (The Hindu)