England v Sri Lanka World T20 Preview - Match 29
Well-rested Sri Lankans will likely rely on spin after England's struggle against Afghanistan
25 March 2016 17:13
There comes a point in every global tournament after which it becomes a bit redundant to say that a game is a must-win event. With the manner in which the two groups of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 are stacked, that moment passed a long time ago. The latest encounter to become one of those do-or-die affairs is the England-Sri Lanka clash at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi on Saturday (March 26). Depending on how South Africa goes against West Indies on Friday evening, Net Run Rate could play a part, but irrespective, nothing short of victory will help either team’s bid to go through to the next round.
To that end, there were different shades of knowledge – of the opposition and the conditions – on top of the mind in both camps, and the team that settles this discussion in the backroom might well end up being best placed to come out on top.
England has a fair bit of knowledge of their opposition, and some awareness about what it has done wrong so far. “We were very disappointed with the way we batted," said Paul Farbrace, England's assistant coach, looking back at the Afghanistan match where his team was in all manner of trouble before being bailed out towards the end by Moeen Ali and David Willey. "There's no fudging that. We didn't adapt to the conditions. We didn't work out that the ball was skidding on and played for turn that wasn't there.”
Farbrace conceded that his team had enough background information on the opposition in front of them. “Sri Lanka are capable of beating anyone on their day," he said. "Between Trevor [Bayliss] and myself, we know a fair bit about them and their players, but our focus will be on us and what we need to do and how we need to win the game. We know we've got areas to improve: we're not going to hide behind anything. We've got to keep working hard on our all-round game. We played half a game again, but we won, which is the most important thing.”
For his part, Joe Root, who will be expected to play a major role if England is to go deep in this tournament, admitted that adapting to the conditions was one of the challenges at hand. “It’s a bit about adapting to the conditions a bit better than we did the other day and not having too many preconceived ideas," said Root. "We have to make sure we make our assessments and are clear about how we approach the 20 overs.
“Every surface is different. About making sure you give yourself the best chance on that kind of wicket. Sometimes you might have to face a few balls to get accustomed to it. Ultimately, it’s about playing the situation in front of you, reading the wicket, reading the score if you’re chasing, and making sure you’re working with your partner to whittle it down and take the game away from the opposition.”
England clearly did not read the conditions anywhere near as accurately as needed in the match against Afghanistan, expecting a turner when the pitch at the Kotla was merely slow and low, with the ball skidding through. “Being from England, you’ve got to work it out pretty quick and be quite smart," said Root. "You can make assumptions the day before the game, but it’s about what you do when you’re out there. We have to be clear how the pitch is going to play.”
Sri Lanka has flown a bit under the radar in this tournament, and the loss of Lasith Malinga to injury has largely lowered expectations. But, if anything, its bowling attack had done a job. It will certainly be looking to use the slow bowlers – turn or no turn – to put some doubts in English minds. Rangana Herath is a master of reading conditions and fine-tuning his pace, flight and angles based on them and Jeffrey Vandersay, the legspinner, has shown that he is capable up putting together a disciplined spell of bowling. And, as always, Tillakaratne Dilshan lurks in the shadows, his offspin a serious option to throw England off their game, perhaps even early on.
“We had six days rest," said Dinesh Chandimal. "Two of those days were total rest – without training. It was for the players to concentrate on their own games. To watch videos of them batting well, and to analyse where they went wrong.
“In those days, we also made a lot of plans about how to challenge England. There will be a few small changes. Those changes will also be made to surprise them. We are hopeful we can give them a good game.”
England: Jason Roy, James Vince/Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews (capt), Malinda Siriwardana, Thissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Jeffrey Vandersay, Dushmantha Chameera.Get live cricket scores and follow every ball of the ICC World Twenty20 with the official app