The State of Play
It’s win or bust for both nations after woeful starts to the tournament.
England came in as defending champions and one of the favourites but have failed to get out of first gear. They have lost three of their four matches so far with their only win coming against Bangladesh. And the very nature of their 229-run hammering by South Africa last time out, when the team looked bedraggled and baffled by captain Jos Buttler’s decision to bowl first in the sweltering heat of Mumbai, doesn’t bode well. Simply put, England have to win all five of their remaining games to reach the semi-finals.
The same can be said for Sri Lanka, who have an identical played four, won one record as today’s opponents. They have shown glimpses of quality, and in Kusal Mendis possess a player who offers a real threat, but a lack of frontline bowlers is likely to hinder their progress. They do have an off-field weapon, though, with former England coach Chris Silverwood now in charge.
England’s best bowler in India, Reece Topley, is out for the tournament due to a broken finger suffered against the Proteas. England have the option to replace like for like, probably with Chris Woakes or Topley’s replacement Brydon Carse, or again change the make-up of their XI. The experiment of picking five bowlers against South Africa backfired spectacularly so expect to see at least one all-rounder return.
Sri Lanka have also made a squad alteration due to an injury with the vastly experienced Angelo Mathews coming in for Matheesha Pathirana. Mathews captained Sri Lanka in the 2015 World Cup and, having been on media duty yesterday, seems certain to go straight into the team.
England: Bairstow, Malan, Root, Stokes, Buttler (c, wk), Livingstone, Moeen, Woakes, Willey, Rashid, Wood
Sri Lanka: Nissanka, Perera, Mendis (c, wk), Samarawickrama, Asalanka, De Silva, Mathews, Theekshana, Rajitha, Kumara, Madushanka
England won the toss and elected to bat.
What They Said
Moeen Ali: “If there is one side that will fight from this position and could go on and win it, it is our team. You do it by going one game at a time – we have done it before.
“There is no other choice than putting in a performance to win the game. We have to win every game to stay in this World Cup.”
Angelo Mathews: “We have to fight fire with fire because we know they will come really hard at us.
“Obviously we have to play our ‘A’ game against a very strong England team. Even though they haven’t played to their potential they are a very dangerous team.
“We know their brand of cricket is all about being positive; if you take a backward step they are going to jump all over you and take the advantage. They can hurt us badly if we are complacent.”
England have won eight of the last 11 ODIs against Sri Lanka and expect that dominance to continue. Frankly, England cannot play any worse than they did against the South Africans, and with so much on the line, Buttler and Co should have enough, particularly in the batting line-up, to get the job done ahead of tougher tests against India and Australia.
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