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28 February 201522:26

England v Sri Lanka Preview, Match 22 at Wellington

Both teams found rhythm and form in their previous matches, and a win is vital for both in a tight Pool A table

England v Sri Lanka Preview, Match 22 at Wellington - Cricket News

Sri Lanka also had a rocky start to the tournament, but it seems to have found its footing now.

Ahead of what has become an even more crucial encounter than it would have been before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 got underway, England will take on Sri Lanka at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Sunday (March 1), with both teams aiming for a performance that will lift them towards some security near the top of the Pool A table.

Only a couple of points separate second-placed Sri Lanka – who has four – from sixth-placed England, who has two, and the winner of this clash will take an important step towards stabilising its position.

England had heavy defeats to co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, but the Eoin Morgan-led side turned it around after a 119-run triumph against Scotland. However, the heavy defeats have meant England has a negative net run-rate, and it will be aware that unless the wins start stacking up, an early flight home could be a possibility.

“It’s very important for us and these three games are almost each like a quarterfinal, but we thrive on that sort of pressure and hopefully it will bring the best out of us,” said Steve Finn, one of England’s frontline pacers, on the eve of the match.

Sri Lanka also had a rocky start to the tournament, but it seems to have found its footing now.

Since a 98-run loss to New Zealand, Sri Lanka has returned to form with wins over Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The manner of the wins – overcoming a collapse in the first one and a clinical performance in the second must have boosted the side’s confidence.

It will need plenty of that and more against England, a side eager to forget the poor shows against Australia and New Zealand.

England lost to Australia by 111 runs and was 123 all out before losing to New Zealand by eight wickets, before its campaign brightened after the win against Scotland. Moeen Ali was the chief architect behind that, and he could play a decisive role against Sri Lanka.

The biggest plus for England from the Scotland game was Morgan getting back in the runs with a fluent 42-ball 46 and time spent in the middle.

England had lost a seven-match ODI series against Sri Lanka last year by a 2-5 margin last year, but its pace attack had lacked the services of Stuart Broad and James Anderson then. The duo are back now, and conditions in Wellington will also be vastly different to the ones both sides faced in Sri Lanka, and England will thus believe it starts on somewhat even footing against the 1996 World Champions.

Sunday’s game will be Sri Lanka’s third in eight days, and though Sri Lanka has arrived at a point in its campaign where the schedule is rushed, the upside is it has given Lasith Malinga the bandwidth to get miles under his belt. Sri Lanka’s strike bowler had come into the tournament after ankle surgery, and has looked close to returning to his best. With Suranga Lakmal and Thisara Perera also in rhythm, Sri Lanka’s pace stocks aren’t lacking.

“He looked much more like his old self, his bowling had some of that old zip about it and that is a great sign for a team that really needs him to fire,” said Muttiah Muralithan, the former Sri Lankan spinner, of Malinga.

With both teams in look out for important wins, this fixture has assumed added importance and could be another one of those thrillers, or at the very least – a good game of cricket.

Teams (from):

Sri Lanka: Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews (capt), Rangana Herath, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake.

England: Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), James Taylor, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, James Tredwell.