Bengaluru: Two sides in desperate need of a positive result battle it out here with hopes of resuscitating their faltering World Cup campaigns.
Both England and Sri Lanka are based in the lower half of the table, the defending champions sitting a lowly ninth, and Sri Lanka a spot above on superior NRR.
England copped crushing defeats against New Zealand, Afghanistan and South Africa, their only win coming against Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka meanwhile opened their points tally in their last fixture against Netherlands, beginning their campaign with three consecutive losses against South Africa, Pakistan and Australia.
The last time these two sides clashed in the World Cup, it was Sri Lanka and in particular, Lasith Malinga that dismantled the England line-up.
But what appears a proper batting strip greets the two teams, who have been struggling for consistency with the willow.
The Chinnaswamy Stadium, aptly given the moniker ‘The bowlers’ graveyard’ held true to that reputation as 672 runs were plundered when Pakistan took on Australia.
Bowlers have been punished for bowling full in particular, the bounce in the pitch remaining true across both innings, allowing batters swing their arms.
This English team is an amalgamation of white-ball superstars and gung-ho batters, each capable of dishing out a barrage of boundaries, and bowlers who have perfected the art of bowling with both the new ball and in the death.
But they seemed to have been faced with an identity crisis, mainly let down by their bowlers who have repeatedly been placed under siege.
Reece Topley has been ruled out and his replacement Brydon Carse lacks match fitness. Chris Woakes should return to the line-up in Topley’s stead.
Chasing totals under the lights has revealed several chinks in the English batting armour, who have failed to fire as a unit.
The Lankans will enter the fixture as underdogs, and have shown glimpses of their fearsome capabilities. A series of untimely injuries have added to their woes.
Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, and now Matheesha Pathirana have been ruled out of the tournament for Sri Lanka, who will take inspiration from their 1996 World Cup heroics.
Stand-in skipper Kusal Mendis and Sadeera Samarawickrama have been stand-outs with the bat. The middle order will be bolstered with the inclusion of the seasoned Angelo Mathews.
Dilshan Madushanka can get the new ball to move around, exactly the type of bowler who can run through a star-studded batting order.
Expect another run-fest, and with both teams wary of their failures while chasing, the team batting first will eye a big score.
While a push for the top four is still statistically possible, it is a tall order. But a win tomorrow for either team will certainly clunk them into a higher gear.
(Published 26 October 2023, 00:22 IST)