Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomesportscricketIndecisive England need all-round improvement against Sri Lanka to keep WC campaign...

Indecisive England need all-round improvement against Sri Lanka to keep WC campaign afloat

Bengaluru: England will get a chance, perhaps a final one, to drag their shipwreck of a World Cup campaign, marked by batting and bowling downtime, to less stormy shores when they face fellow strugglers Sri Lanka here on Thursday.

The defending champions have two points from four matches, similar to their opponents, and are ninth on the table.

A win here will not push them too far ahead on the chart, but it may give them that tiny bit of motivation against teams like India and Australia ahead. But a defeat against Lanka will take away even the benevolence of mathematics, which is currently scaffolding their hopes.

To avoid being in the proximity of an early exit, England need improvement through the order, and in particular their batters need to fire. For that, they will not get a more favourable venue than the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with its short boundaries and pitch aiding runs.

The last match here between Australia and Pakistan produced a combined 672 runs, and the England batters would desperately want to repeat their effort against Bangladesh on October 10 when they mustered 364 for 9 at Dharamsala.

It has been their bane during this tournament as none of their batters, barring Dawid Malan and Joe Root to a lesser extent, have been able to find their range, a defeat against Afghanistan and the mauling by South Africa still play out like the reels of a bad dream.

There was so much riding on the likes of captain Jos Buttler, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes and Liam Livingstone but none of them have delivered.

Among them the malfunctioning of their all-rounders might have been the most disappointing as they were central to England’s bull run in white ball cricket.

They started the tournament with four all-rounders – Woakes, Ali, Curran and Livingstone – but three matches later against South Africa none of them made it to the playing 11. Ben Stokes played as a pure batter.

Such a drastic change of template shows the all-round indecisiveness inside the England camp.

If their batting is rudderless, then their bowling is omnishambles.

Reece Topley was their top wicket-taker in this tournament with eight wickets, but in a severe blow to England the pacer was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a fractured index finger.

It leaves leg-spinner Adil Rashid as their most bankable bowler, as he has taken six wickets so far and his economy rate of 5.18 is the best among the Englishmen.

However, England will find some consolation from the fact that Sri Lanka are dealing with an equal amount of mess despite a five-wicket win over Netherlands in their last match.

They have lost two players to injuries after four matches – captain Dasun Shanaka and young pacer Matheesha Pathirana. But that does not even feel like a loss as those two were not exactly setting the stage ablaze.

If England lacked clarity on several fronts, Sri Lanka are giving them a close run.

Sample this. They brought in veteran Angelo Mathews as Pathirana’s replacement when they had a like-for-like pacer in Dushamantha Chameera available among the travelling reserves.

It looks like a serious brain fade as Sri Lanka’s main headache is their stingless bowling. They have conceded 428 against SA, 345 against Pakistan and 215 in 35.2 overs against Australia.

The Lankan bowlers had reduced the Dutch to 91 for 6, but were generous enough to allow them to reach 262. In that context, they might be worried about offering a fresh lease of life to the misfiring England batters here.

However, there is a small sliver of light for Lanka in the form of their top order batters – Sadeera Samarawickrama, Kusal Mendis, the two century-makers, Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka.

If they can exploit the general waywardness of England bowlers then Lanka can hope of putting them under pressure, if not turn it into a victory.

Their shock 20-run win over England four years ago might still serve Lankans a dose of confidence as some like Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva and Kusal Perera were part of that stunning day.

So, another classic might just be brewing when two teams with so much shared destiny face up to each other.

Teams

England: Jos Buttler (c), Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes, Brydon Carse, David Willey, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes.

Sri Lanka: Kusal Mendis (c), Kusal Perera, Pathum Nissanka, Lahiru Kumara, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Angelo Mathews, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika KarunaratnTravelling reserve: Dushmantha Chameera.

Match starts at 2 PM.

(Published 25 October 2023, 09:47 IST)

RELATED ARTICLES
- Advertisment -

Most Popular