Preview: England take on Sri Lanka in a do-or-die clash
The equation is pretty simple for England right now. A win here will guarantee them a spot in the semi-finals, whereas a loss will bring an end to their journey in this T20 World Cup. Afghanistan made things much easier for Jos Buttler and his men as they stopped Australia from gaining a significant boost in their NRR on Friday. So, all England need to do now is ensure a win against Sri Lanka to make it to the final four.
England did look a bit off-colour as a team in their first couple of matches. Although they started with a five-wicket win against Afghanistan, it wasn't a convincing performance as the Afghan bowlers made them toil hard to get to the target of 113. The result in the next match was even worse as they lost to Ireland by five runs (DLS method). The following match against Australia got washed out and their semi-final hopes started sinking. But England really looked in their zone against New Zealand.
Jos Buttler struck form with the bat, Alex Hales carried his good form forward and the bowlers delivered a superb performance to restrict the Kiwis to 20 runs short of what they scored. It was a well-rounded performance and that's exactly what England need in this do-or-die contest.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are already out of the semi-final race. They have four points to their name right now and a win here can only take them to six points, which isn't enough as two teams in their group have already accumulated seven points. But they will definitely be eager to bow out on a high. They have nothing to lose now and that in turn could make them a bit adventurous. It's probably why England have to tread very carefully against the Asian champions.
Dasun Shanaka's men are also coming into this contest on the back of a clinical win against Afghanistan. The bowlers restricted the Afghans to 144/8 and then Sri Lanka chased it down with six wickets and nine deliveries to spare. They have the confidence and momentum on their side going into this match, and they will try their best to spoil England's party. Australia, on the other hand, have their hopes pinned on Sri Lanka as only their victory in this contest can clear their path to the semi-finals.
Predicted Playing XIs
England: Jos Buttler (c & wk), Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis (wk), Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dasun Shanaka (c), Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha
Jos Buttler: The England skipper makes a big impact whenever he bats through the innings and scores big. Buttler smashed 73 from just 47 deliveries in the last match against New Zealand and helped them to a crucial win. He will have another important role to play in this contest.
Wanindu Hasaranga: The spinner claimed three wickets in the last match against Afghanistan and will be eager to make an equally big impact in this game. He is also the highest wicket-taker in this T20 World Cup, with 13 wickets to his name at a superb average of 13.53.
Dream11 Fantasy Picks
Captaincy Pick: Wanindu Hasaranga
Picking an all-rounder for captaincy is never a bad choice – and who better than Wanindu Hasaranga for that role? The 25-year-old is the leading wicket-taker in the ICC showpiece event. He has taken 13 wickets at an average of 13.54 so far, including best figures of 3/8. The wrist-spinner registered match-winning figures of 3/13 against Afghanistan in Sri Lanka's six-wicket win in Brisbane.
Must-have Pick: Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler has looked out of sorts in the tournament so far but his recent 47-ball knock of 73 against New Zealand helped England in registering a comprehensive 20-run victory to keep their semi-final hopes alive. The England wicketkeeper-batter has played eight matches against the Asian champions and has scored 357 runs at a strike rate of nearly 150. Buttler scored his maiden T20I century against Sri Lanka in last year's T20 World Cup encounter in Sharjah. The 32-year-old has piled up 2468 runs in 100 T20I matches and recently became England's leading run-scorer in the format. He went past his predecessor Eoin Morgan's tally of 2458 runs.
Differential Pick: Sam Curran
Sam Curran has picked 11 wickets in four games in the ongoing T20 World Cup so far. In his last encounter against New Zealand, the left-arm pacer claimed two wickets and conceded 26 runs from four overs. The 24-year-old has scored 152 runs at a strike rate of 138.18 and has picked 37 wickets at an average of 21.91 in the 32 T20I matches he has played so far. Curran started the tournament with record-breaking bowling figures of 5/10 versus Afghanistan in their opening game in Perth.
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