England target semi-final berth
June 13, 2013, The Oval
Start time 1pm (1200 GMT)
The Big Picture
England were too rigid, too slow and too one-dimensional at Edgbaston - probably why they thumped Australia by 48 runs. The familiar concerns over England's shortcomings were rolled out at lunch on Saturday, only to be wheeled away at the close. England have a knack for getting it right on the night, particularly in ODIs at home, and should they get the job done against Sri Lanka, they will be in the semi-finals.
The scaremongering will emerge again over England's batting - how will they survive Lasith Malinga's toe-crushers? How will they find a way to score from Rangana Herath, who put England in a spin last March? They've never seen Sachithra Senanayake before. Their blasters with the bat are no good against slow bowling. You can see it is quite easy to descend into debilitating nervousness about the England line up.
But England have their plans, England know their game and, more often than not, have been able to put in a performance with the bat. Anyone who left for the bar at Edgbaston after 40 overs of the first innings on Saturday would have been after a stiff measure to numb the pain of the previous 20 overs. By the interval, a response to England's total of 269 would have included pleasant surprise and bewilderment at how they got there after their middle order was so quickly shot down.
England found a way. Ravi Bopara played a great hand and his performances at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston were just what he was picked for: a handy few late-order runs and a tricky spell of slippery overs. Bopara balances England quite nicely and looking at the wickets from the opening Champions Trophy matches, pace off the ball is a good weapon.
Sri Lanka needed more of it against New Zealand. Angelo Mathews admitted his selection was wrong in Cardiff. A second spinner would have forced New Zealand into doing more than drop-and-run and use the pace of the quicker men to nudge their way to the target. More of a threat then Tillakaratne Dilshan was needed. It was a bizarre oversight; especially considering New Zealand played two spinners.
They were left relying on Malinga and even his best ideally needs more than 139 to work with. Sri Lanka's dealing with the new balls - which haven't done as much as might have been expected - and more pertinently, reverse swing, could decide the match.
Form guide(Completed, competitive matches only, most recent first)
Sri Lanka LLWLW
Watch out for
Eoin Morgan hasn't been firing on all cylinders since returning from the IPL but there have been some positive signs, the brightest of those his 49 in 40 balls at Trent Bridge. England's tactics with the bat heavily rely on late-innings hitting and Morgan, along with Jos Buttler, is responsible for extricating England from their foundation-laying and is essential if they are to post a large total.
Surrounded by flashy players, a more considered approach will be needed to overcome England's bowling attack. Enter Mahela Jayawardene, very experienced and successful in England with three centuries and an average of 42.00 in 24 ODIs. His form has not been flash of late, but he has the ability to counter the reverse-swing that Sri Lanka will have to master later in the innings.
England have Graeme Swann fit and available again after the back spasm that kept him out at Edgbaston. But James Tredwell never lets his country down which creates an interesting situation. Tim Bresnan's wife is more than a week overdue with the couple's first baby; the potential remains for Bresnan to be whisked up the M1.
England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson
Sri Lanka appear unlikely to play two spinners but could recall Nuwan Kulasekara in place of Shaminda Eranga who, in the circumstances, proved expensive in Cardiff. Senanayake may also replace Rangana Herath.
Sri Lanka (possible) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Kusal Perera, 3 Mahela Jayawardene, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Dinesh Chandimal, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Lahiru Thirimanne, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Sachithra Senanayake, 11 Lasith Malinga
Pitch and conditions
There will be a new wicket at The Oval which will suit England if it returns to the pace and bounce on show for the Pakistan-West Indies game. After a couple of rainy days, the weather forecast is also set fair.
Stats and trivia
- England just edge the head-to-head record from the 20 ODIs played against Sri Lanka at home. England have won 11 and lost 9.
- The sides have met three times at The Oval, England winning twice - in 1988 and 2011 - and losing in 2006
- England have won both previous Champions Trophy ties against Sri Lanka, both by comfortable margins. A six-wicket win at Johannesburg in 2009 followed a 49-run win at the Rose Bowl in 2004.
"The first two games against New Zealand seem to be out of the way. We seem to have recovered a bit of form and confidence now."