England faces desperate Sri Lanka

Second in the group after two wins from three outings, England begins as the favourite against a struggling Sri Lanka. No doubt, it will take a huge effort from the Islanders to deny England two more points but a defeat on Saturday will mean the end of Sri Lanka's title defence.

England's Joe Root hones his batting skills under the supervision of coach Paul Collingwood in Kotla on Friiday.   -  Getty Images

After defending a modest total of 142 against the inexperienced Afghanistan, England returns to the Feroz Shah Kotla ground here looking to nail a struggling Sri Lanka in its World T20 clash on Saturday.

Second in the group after two wins from three outings, England begins as the favourite after its bowlers came good for the first time in the competition on Wednesday. >Watch: Root bemoans England's inconsistency

Knowing that Sri Lanka, the defending champion, is playing far from its best, England will look to improve upon its unfavourable head-to-head record of 2-4.





Nothing has really gone Lanka’s way, whether in the recent Asia Cup in Dhaka or during its title-defence (save a none-too-impressive win over Afghanistan) in this competition. No doubt, it will take a huge effort from the Islanders to deny England two more points but a defeat on Saturday will mean no getting past the league stage.

England’s batting came good against West Indies and South Africa before the bowlers redeemed themselves in the third match against Afghanistan.

Sri Lanka will draw some hope from how the top-order England batsmen came a cropper against the Afghan spinners. England needs no reminding that the quality of spinners in the Sri Lankan line-up is superior to those from Afghanistan.

With this being the last league match for England, Eoin Morgan’s men have no choice but to improve its poor net run-rate (NRR). In this group, there is every possibility of two or more teams ending up with six points each.

NRR factor

In such a scenario, the NRR will come into play. For the record, at present, West Indies (0.89) and South African (0.85) are way ahead of England (0.02).

Joe Root, the man in form, was candid in his assessment of the team on Friday. “We’ve not performed our best throughout the competition, which in a way is quite exciting because we know our best is yet to come.”

“If we’re being honest, we’ve not done one part of our game consistently well. At times we’ve bowled extremely well and at times we’ve batted well. When that comes together we’ll be a very hard side to beat.”

England’s batsmen can be expected to make amends for their poor showing against Afghanistan. It remains to be seen how well Sri Lankan spinners bowl to the Englishmen on the Kotla pitch.

Lanka depends much on >Dinesh Chandimal to get a good start. Experienced campaigners like Tillakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Mathews have not served the team as well as expected and the pace bowlers have been made to look ordinary. Among the spinners, the seasoned >Rangana Herath and young leg-spinner Jeffery Vandersay are yet to make an impression.

The teams (from):

England: Jason Roy, James Vince, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Sam Billings, Recce Topley and Alex Hales.

Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Lahiru Thirimanne, Chamara Kapugedara, Angelo Mathews, Milinda Siriwardana, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Jeffery Vandersay, Dushmantha Chameera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake and Dasun Shanaka.