Sri Lanka vs England, Westpac Stadium in Wellington on 1st March 2015 - Match Preview
The Sri Lankans are on an upward curve after beating Afghanistan in a tough chase and then dismantling Bangladesh to shreds at the MCG. England, on the other hand have had a nice little confidence booster against Scotland which they won convincingly after they were were trashed by the Kiwi team in Wellington.
The Sri Lankan batting got a big boost as both Dilshan and Sangakkara slammed quick centuries and shared an unbroken 200 run partnership against Bangladesh. The classy Mahela Jayawardene had already announced his hunger as he guided the Lankans to a win against Afghanistan with a calm century of his own. Dilshan will be partnered by Lahiru Thirimanne who has also made two half centuries in the three games although he was very very lucky against Bangladesh who missed several chances to get him out. Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera are also in good form and can hit the big sixes in the final ten overs.
Kumar Sangakkara will look to repeat his last match performance against England
Lasith Malinga is slowly getting in to his rhythm and he bowled reasonably well against Bangladesh. The ball that got Tamim out was an absolute ripper and the yorkers that he known for were finding their target. Suranga Lakmal has been a revelation and he has bowled superbly in all of the Sri Lankan games thus far. Rangana Herath provides a steady and calming influence in the middle overs with his stifling left arm spin. I think that Sri Lanka must drop Karunaratne for this game and go in with Senanayake as he has a very record against the England and is a brilliant fielder and can wield the long handle too if required. Mathews, Perera and Dilshan provide the part time option.
The England batting got a bit their self confidence and pride back as Moeen Ali and Bell first put on a steady opening partnership and then Morgan also getting some runs down the order. Though James Taylor has not fired since his opening blast against the Australians and Joe Root has also looked a bit rusty. Jos Buttler also needs to come to the party in the late overs and he is a very capable hitter down in the slog overs.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad were expected by many to be a force to be reckoned with on the pitches down under and in the swinging and seaming pitches in New Zealand. But they have largely disappointed as they have appeared to be rudderless and have extracted no significant swing or seam movement. Steve Finn took a hat trick against the Australians but was ineffective and was carted to all parts of the ground by McCullum, he bounced back against the Scots and took 4 wickets. Woakes has been the only one who has bowled with some sort of a control and he has got the rewards to show for his hard work. Mooen Ali and Joe Root will shoulder the spin bowling responsibility but how effective they will be against the nifty footwork of the Lankan tigers remains to be seen.
Key Battles: Sri Lanka Vs England
Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara vs James Anderson and Stuart Broad
Mahela Jayawardene vs Chris Woakes
Rangana Herath vs Joe Root and Eoin Morgan
This match promises to be a cracker as the loser will have to face either India or South Africa in the Quarter Finals. The jostling for positions will make the match very important and in the larger scheme of things, the outcome of this clash will play a significant part on how far the teams will progress in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com