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Beleaguered Sri Lanka battle for survival against mighty England
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Beleaguered Sri Lanka battle for survival against mighty England

Battle lines are being drawn for the ultimate mismatch of the World Cup as a desperate Sri Lanka struggling to keep their hopes alive in the tournament take on a dominant England side riding high on confidence on Friday at Headingley.

Sri Lanka are in dire need of wins to resuscitate their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals as they currently sit at the sixth spot in the points table, arguably helped by two washed out games against Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Their solitary victory came against the minnows Afghanistan and while they did show glimpses of a fighting spirit in their pursuit of the steep target of 335 in the previous game against Australia, the lower order imploded leaving them to rue an 87-run defeat.

Dimuth Karunaratne's resurgence with the bat has been a silver lining of Sri Lanka's abysmal campaign considering the left-hand batsman had played just one ODI in the last four years before the tournament and he would be hoping to inspire the rest of the batting to fire.

Meanwhile, England head into the clash fresh from posting the highest total of the tournament three days ago against Afghanistan, featuring skipper Eoin Morgan's record-breaking century.

Their ruthless approach to flooring opponents with belligerent batting typifies England's one-day revolution that has seen them claim the number one ranking in the format.

Wary of the World Cup hosts' explosive batting arsenal, Karunaratne said his bowlers had prepared a plan for each England batsman which they would use to great effect at Headingley.

"If we don't have good pace, we have to think out of the box so I think that is what we need," Karunaratne spoke on the eve of the game.

"We have played in a home series against them, so we have a couple of ideas and we need to work on those things in the middle," he added.

Vince's final shot at glory

England's makeshift opener James Vince looked the obvious weak link during their commanding 150-run win over Afghanistan.

Vince was provided an opportunity to make his World Cup debut due to a hamstring injury to England's first-choice opener Jason Roy, but he failed to capitalize on a decent start.

All the pressure now shifts on the 28-year-old, who has often been criticized for throwing away good starts, as this might be his final chance at redemption since Roy is expected to come back into the team for the next match.

Sri Lanka's woeful middle order

Middle order collapses have been the theme for Sri Lanka in this tournament as they have constantly found themselves squander solid foundations laid by the top three.

Angelo Mathews and Kusal Mendis have collectively added a paltry sum of 41 runs in the last three games indicating the deep troubles faced by Sri Lanka's batting.

At crucial junctures of the match, Sri Lanka have lost wickets in clusters stalling their momentum and ultimately triggering their downfall.

With limited resources being a constraint for the team management, the onus falls on the experienced players in the line-up to lift the side.


Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Avishka Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Kusal Mendis (wk), Kusal Perera (wk), Thisara Perera, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Lahiru Thirimanne, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay

England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood