Sri Lanka face uphill task against devastating England

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20 Jun 2019 | 09:36 AM
authorArjun Ganesh

Sri Lanka face uphill task against devastating England

Struggling Islanders hope to pull off improbable result



It is no surprise that England have been bulldozing most teams this World Cup and that, conversely, Sri Lanka are struggling to get going.
Prior to the quadrennial event, a host of pundits from across the globe tipped the inventors of the sport to finally claim the all-elusive title, while writing off the 1996 world champions. 

Eoin Morgan’s side has grown from strength to strength, barring the blip against Pakistan on June 3. On Tuesday, England sounded another warning to opponents with a thorough demolition job, albeit against minnows Afghanistan. 

If England are a side that seemed to have ticked all the boxes, Dimuth Karunaratne’s men have displayed a lack of intent and application in crunch situations. Their only success in the Cup thus far is a 34-run victory against Afghanistan earlier this month. 

In a tournament where luck plays a vital role, Sri Lanka have had the rub of the green going their way with two wash-outs, against Pakistan and Bangladesh, bringing them a couple of points. On paper, and going by current form, the islanders would have had the slimmest of chances to win either or both those games.

For Sri Lanka it will all come down to how their openers tackle the likes of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood on a fresh pitch at Headingly, Leeds on Friday. 

Karunaratne and Kusal Perera have been the only bright sparks for Lanka in this campaign, and the need for a good start will lie on their shoulders, although it won’t be easy. 

If the openers fail, a brittle middle order will be exposed to the pace and bounce that England have executed to near perfection. 

While England have the likes of Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali in an explosive middle order, Sri Lanka’s inexperience comes to the fore once the top is dislodged. 

The experienced Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera have been largely uninspiring, and have failed to lead a middle-order revival when required. 

The numbers for the middle order are a good indication of why Sri Lanka finds itself at the bottom of the pile: 

Archer has been an absolute revelation for England in the World Cup, and he has found an able ally in Wood. Raw pace defines the duo, and it is a weapon they have used to great effect. 

While Archer finds his success with shorter lengths, Wood has gone for the tried and tested full and fast deliveries. 

It is not surprising that Archer and Wood have been most successful when bowling in excess of 140kmph. It will be interesting to note that together, they have sent down a mind boggling 50.5 overs (305 balls) at speeds above the 90mph range. 

This game will be a test of their abilities at the start of the innings as both Lankan openers have been largely comfortable against pacers. 

England’s success since the last World Cup hasn’t just been due to individuals standing up at crucial junctures. The exciting brand of cricket they have adopted in this period stands out, with some prolific six-hitting abilities. 

A weak Sri Lankan attack needs to be cautious of a being subjected to a leather hunt, considering England are only behind West Indies in terms of the number of balls they take to deposit one into the stands.  

In the last four years, these teams have locked horns in 10 ODI games, with Lanka managing just one victory. Their track record in World Cups has been a lot better, losing just the solitary game against England since 1996. 

But this a different England side, probably the best they have ever fielded, and even an optimist can see little in this encounter beyond a leather hunt for the Lankan Lions.

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England vs Sri Lanka2019 World CupDimuth KarunaratneEoin Morgan

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