England’s new-found consistency will be pitted against Sri Lanka’s characteristic flair when the two teams clash in the first semifinal of the Twenty20 World Cup in Gros Islet, St Lucia on Thursday.
England’s display in the tournament has been a revelation of sorts with Paul Collingwood and his men winning all three Super Eight stage matches with consummate ease.
With their maverick top order batsman Kevin Pietersen returning to the ranks after a brief break to watch the birth of his first child, England’s batting order would have a formidable look about it.
Pietersen has been in sensational form but even without him, England hardly broke a sweat as they upended New Zealand to prove that they don’t rely on an individual or two to see them through.
In Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, England have an opening pair which scores at a brisk rate.
In the middle order, the exciting Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright and all-rounder Tim Bresnan have the penchant to assert themselves early which suits the team.
Their bowling department also has the necessary variety.
Bresnan and his new-ball colleague Ryan Sidebottom have more often than not given the early breakthrough while Stuart Broad has been among the wickets as well.
In the slow bowling department, Michael Yardy has been parsimony personified while Graeme Swann has struck regularly.
England’s might notwithstanding, it is not going to be a cakewalk against the Sri Lankans who are high on confidence after sneaking through to the last four stage.
Unlike England, consistency has not been Sri Lanka’s strong point in the tournament and even after beating India, they had to wait for an Australian triumph over the West Indies before a semifinal berth could be theirs.
The islanders, however, would take heart from their success against India, especially with Tillakaratne Dilshan returning to form and youngsters like Angelo Matthews and Chamara Kapugedera coming to the party.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara also looked in fine touch against India and he would hope Mahela Jayawardene, who had a brilliant run in the tournament before it was punctuated by two poor outings, to hit form tomorrow.
In Lasith Malinga, Thissara Perera and Angelo Mathews, they have quite a potent attack and Sangakkara would expect them to trouble the English batsmen.