Sri Lanka Vs England
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Colombo, March 26: England will no doubt be buoyant from the manner they have come back into the World Cup 2011, after teetering on the brink of elimination. It's that buoyancy that could make life very hard indeed for a positive outfit of Lankans when the two sides meet in the quarterfinal of the tournament on Saturday, March 26 (Scorecard), (Ball by Ball), (Commentary).
However, the Lankans will be playing in their own backyard - Colombo - a milieu that should probably render it an air of invincibility. But try convincing the English about that. Since the last World Cup, the visiting England side has beaten the Lankans in a home series 3-2, while also emerging victorious by 5 wickets and 30 balls in their last encounter, which was during the Champions Trophy in Sept 2009.
But fortunes fluctuate within a few months time and equations of power and domination change as well, and so the Lankans will be more than fancying their chances of ending England's World Cup. After all, the present English side has been beleaguered with injury as Kevin Peitersen, Stuart Broad and Ajmal Shahzad have all fallen by the wayside. Whereas, in the Lankan unit, not even a hamstring tear could keep the old war-horse Muttiah Muralitharan out of battle.
In the World Cup 2011, the English batting has generally been looking quite strong. The ability to tie India to a mammoth score of 329 speaks volumes of the virtues of the English batting. But at the same time, its 171 al out and ensuing narrow escape against South Africa would crease up a few frowns in the English camp.
Nevertheless, English opener Andrew Strauss has been performing well with one of the tournament's top aggregates of 329 runs at an average of 54.83. He has been superseded by one-down batsman Jonathan Trott who averages 56.00 and is followed by middle-order stalwart Ian Bell, at 36.66.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan batting compares favourably with openers Upul Tharanga (avg: 52.20) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (avg: 47.66) doing a creditable job while captain Kumar Sangakkara has been in his element, topping the tournament's run-getter's charts with an aggregate of 363 and an average of 90.75. Mahela Jayawardene with 40.00, has been holding up the middle well.
After last Friday's rout of New Zealand, the wily old fox Murali, has shown that he can still spearhead the attack. While no Lankan bowlers have stood out this tournament, Lasith Malinga has guzzled Kenyan blood with his yorkers and Dilshan has spun a web around the Zimbabweans.
For England meanwhile, Graeme Swann has tasted the most amount of success for his side with 12 scalps from 6 matches at an average of 20.66, while James Tredwell who had a fantastic match against the Windies is averaging just 12.00. England will however sorely miss the services of Stuart Broad who has been their most successful bowler against Lanka since May 2007, taking 14 wickets from 6 matches an average of under 19.00.
Sri Lanka will be hoping that its 2-6 win-loss record against England in World Cups will not have a bearing on Saturday's game and that they can reverse the trend of history to come out tops.