World Cup 2019: One last chance for Sri Lanka

The islanders have struggled in the World Cup so far with only one win in five games; England, on the other hand, led by Eoin Morgan, is on an upswing.

Sri Lanka batsman Kusal Perera, who scored two fifties so far, dives to make his ground during the match against Australia at The Oval.   -  Getty Images

 

Riding high on confidence after a big win against Afghanistan, England will look to keep the momentum going when it faces Sri Lanka in a World Cup fixture here on Friday.

The Eoin Morgan-led side is currently placed second on the table with eight points from five outings. And another win will bring it closer to the semifinals. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is four points behind.

At the iconic Headingley — which hosts its first game of the tournament — all eyes will be on the England captain. Morgan played a solid knock of 148 against Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday, smashing 17 sixes, the maximum by any player in ODI cricket.

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Tournament favourite England has fared well in every department so far. In absence of regular opener Jason Roy, who is missing a couple of games due to a hamstring injury, the onus will be on Jonny Bairtstow, Joe Root and Morgan to fire at the top. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler add depth to the batting line-up.

England skipper Eoin Morgan with coach Trevor Bayliss at a training session in Headingley on Thursday.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, is a struggling side. So far, it has won only one game out of five, but received a point each from two of its earlier games that were washouts.

Though the side is hanging in there, it now faces a far superior opponent. Captain Dimuth Karunaratne — who has been consistent with the bat, amassing 179 runs in three innings — needs to inspire the rest of the team. It will be interesting to see how the side tackles a star-studded England pace attack starring Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.

Dimuth Karunaratne.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

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With just four games left, Sri Lanka desperately needs to improve its performance if it has to cruise to the last-four stage. A lot also would depend on the pace attack, spearheaded by the seasoned Lasith Malinga, who has so far scalped four wickets.

Before the World Cup, the venue hosted a high-scoring fifth and final ODI between England and Pakistan, where the host bundled out Sarfaraz Ahmed’s side for 297 after scoring 351-9. That raises hopes of a run-feast on a day, which promises to be bright and sunny, with some clouds hovering around.