With Sri Lanka and England pitted against each other, it should be a cracker of a match. England have lived by the sword in this World Cup.
In fact, Strauss & Co. would have been relaxing at home by this time, had West Indies not left the job incomplete by a few runs in that crucial tie. I believe it was right for the importance of the tournament as England were definitely the quality side to qualify for the quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, players have come in and gone home and that has not helped their cause at all. The last casualty, Yardy, has amazed me the most. I accept that they have been on the road for quite sometime but aren’t they professionals? Playing for England in the World Cup comes once in a lifetime and so Yardy’s going home due to depression is surprising!
Strauss needs to ask his players very strongly, do they want to be here some more days and how desperate are they to get to the last day? That mentality should be the biggest obstacle for England in the quarters, even more than how they handle Mendis and Murali, as Sri Lanka is the home team and one saw in the India game that home teams have the advantage in deciding the nature of the pitch.
England have been hot at times and cold the very next in this tournament so far. They have survived mostly for their batting in many a game though it will be tested by the Sri Lankan bowling, dominated by quality spinners and, especially, if they need to bat under lights.
For Lanka, the skipper’s current form with the bat needs to be backed strongly by the others. They have not been tested in pressure situations and how they live up to it, once faced with, will be worth watching. The toss will be important at Premadasa, but only to a certain extent. So both captains should keep the toss out of their mind, because if you keep that in mind you are bound to be handicapped. PMG