Sri Lanka look for spin to beat injury-hit England
Injury-ravaged but battle-hardened after playing a string of humdingers, England will aim for another upset when they take on strong contenders and co-hosts Sri Lanka in the last quarterfinal match of the cricket World Cup on Saturday.india Updated: Mar 25, 2011 13:44 IST
Injury-ravaged but battle-hardened after playing a string of humdingers, England will aim for another upset when they take on strong contenders and co-hosts Sri Lanka in the last quarterfinal match of the cricket World Cup on Saturday.
England endured a tumultous campaign in the league stage besides dealing with one injury crisis after another but they have proved themselves a resurgent team and would look to carry forward that spirit against the title-favourites.
Sri Lanka, in contrast, have had a smooth ride into the quarters and would be contemplating whether to reverse back to a three-strong spin attack for the match at R Premadasa Stadium.
The Sri Lankans tried that formula against Australia in a Group 'A' match, but couldn't see how successful it would be as the game was abandoned halfway through due to rain.
The ploy could return when they take on England but leaving out seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara would prove to be a tough decision.
But for England, it would be about keeping their minds focussed given the tough road to the last-eight stage.
Before arriving in Sri Lanka they had three players, Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad and Stuart Broad withdrawn due to injury while on Thursday, all-rounder Michael Yardy returned to the UK due to depression.
"It's not by choice that we've had a few injuries. Broad and KP would always be in your first XI. But Tredders has come straight in having not played for a long time and got man of the match. Myself against South Africa coming in and getting Man of the Match," England all-rounder Ravi Bopara told reporters.
"Those sort of things give management belief and the rest of the team who have been playing together for a long time in Australia - it gives them belief that the new guys coming in are good enough to do a job," he added.
England have had a roller-coaster first round.
While they tied a high scoring game against co-hosts India, they were stunned by Ireland a few days later.
They recovered with another tight win against South Africa, but lost to Bangladesh in the penultimate Group 'B' game.
Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene, said the fact that England have done well against stronger teams in this competition made them intimidating.
"They have had a very tough World Cup. All their games have been very close. If you analyse properly; the two games they lost were against minnows and they beat some of the top teams and that means they do turn up for the big game," Jayawardene said.
"We can't be complacent. They are a quality side and they have got some good players who can turn things around for them. We have prepared for this World Cup very hard and we continue to do that," he added.
Off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who was nursing a hamstring injury that he sustained during Sri Lanka's last group game against New Zealand in Mumbai, has recovered and is expected to play tomorrow.
While Sri Lanka's top four batsmen have scored hundreds in the competition, there has been some worry about the team's middle order batting.
"There are a few questions raised about our middle-order, but I think they didn't have much opportunity in this World Cup. Every time they got an opportunity, they performed well. That's what this World Cup is all about," Jayawardene said.
"You just have to try and keep it really simple and focus on the game and when you get an opportunity, give your best. I am quite happy with how things have gone," he added.
For England, the batting will revolve around in-form skipper Andrew Strauss, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood but with strike pacer James Anderson struggling for form, the bowling looks a bit suspect especially in crunch situations.
But given that England have proved many a naysayers wrong this World Cup, they are capable of springing another surprise against the Lankans.
England: Andrew Strauss (Captain), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Paul Collingwood, Jade Dernbach, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (Wicketkeeper), Adil Rashid, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Chris Tremlett, Jonathan Trott and Luke Wright.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (Captain and Wicketkeeper), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove (WI) and Simon Taufel (AUS)
Third Umpire: Tony Hill (NZ)
Match Referee: Jeff Crowe (NZ)
Match Starts: 1430 hrs (IST)