SL well placed, but many permutations remain
October 1, 2012
Start time 19.30 local (1400GMT/1500BST)
The Big Picture
Neither of these teams will quite know where they stand until West Indies have played New Zealand in the first game of the day. There are various scenarios, ranging from the reasonably simple to the very complicated, but it is fair to say Sri Lanka are handsomely placed with the advantage of a strong net run-rate after their massive victory against West Indies.
If Sri Lanka win they have nothing to worry about. If they lose they could be eliminated if West Indies win and net run-rate conspires against them. England could lose and go through if New Zealand win; or win and go out if West Indies win. It is a host of ifs, buts and maybes which is the sign of an ideal group stage.
The hosts have the look of a side finding their peak. They could not have played a stronger game than the one put together against West Indies. Generally speaking the longer a host nation stays in a tournament the better for the event - the crowds and atmosphere for the Sri Lanka matches have been a highlight of this tournament.
With England it remains a guessing game which side will appear. They were comfortable against New Zealand, a side which, like themselves, are built on orthodox cricketers, but it did not really tell us much about their ability to combat the variety Sri Lanka will possess. Despite the slick performance it did not bode too well that the spinners, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum, were still not played wholly convincingly.
Form guide(Most recent first, completed matches)
Sri Lanka WW(Super over)LWL
Watch out for...
It has been a tricky tournament for Jonny Bairstow who was all at sea against India's spinners and struggled to maintain the required tempo against West Indies. If he is needed to play a significant innings against Sri Lanka their spinners will provide a tough challenge. Reports from England's training session on Sunday were that he had a lengthy spell with the keeping gloves so it appears there is a chance of him changing roles and replacing Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps.
Predictably the focus is on the home side's slow bowlers (and, of course, Lasith Malinga), but Nuwan Kulasekara is not a bowler to take lightly. He out-foxed Chris Gayle in the previous match and, if a batting side is not on the ball, can hustle through a couple of cheap overs. His only T20 against England, at Bristol two years ago, is an example of this when he took 1 for 15 in three overs to set the tone for a Sri Lanka victory.
Like Australia, questions remain about Sri Lanka's middle order but the other areas of the team are firing impressively. There is no real need for them to alter the starting XI although they may be tempted to bring back Akila Dananjaya if he has recovered sufficiently from his face injury.
Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Mahela Jayawardene (capt), 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 4 Angelo Mathews, 5 Jeevan Mendis, 6 Lahiru Thirimanne, 7 Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Rangana Herath, 11 Ajantha Mendis
If Andy Flower and Stuart Broad make the call to drop Kieswetter then it is a choice between Michael Lumb and Ravi Bopara to replace him. There has been little indication that Bopara is anything other than a drinks carrier during this tournament so Lumb would be favourite. Elsewhere they need to decide whether to retain the same balance of attack as against New Zealand. There were some suggestions that Samit Patel will be returned to the side at the expense of Danny Briggs.
England (probable) 1 Craig Kieswetter/Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Danny Briggs
Pitch and conditions
As was predicted from the early days of the tournament the pitches are becoming slower, lower with more turn on offer although they are far from being minefields. Under lights the ball can skid through, while whoever chases will also do so with the pitch and its oldest. So far the Super Eights have been lucky with the weather.
Stats and trivia
- This will be the first Twenty20 between the two teams in Sri Lanka
- England claimed a comfortable victory when they faced Sri Lanka in the semi-final of the 2010 tournament in St Lucia
- Six batsmen have passed 1000 runs in T20Is and Sri Lanka have three of them - Jayawardene, Dilshan and Sangakkara
"They are a very exciting team. They have some quality players and are good with the ball as well. They are defending champions and will throw us a different challenge."
"We have a huge amount of match-winners. The performances from the guys last night summed that up. Three or four of us played exceptionally well - and world-class players, like Brendon McCullum, found it very difficult to deal with us."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo