England v Sri Lanka, 1st Semi-Final, St Lucia May 12, 2010

England eye rare final

Match Facts

Thursday, May 13, St Lucia
Start time 1130 (1530 GMT)

The Big Picture

While England have not made the final of a ICC global tournament since 2004 Sri Lanka have been beaten finalists in both last year's World Twenty20 and the 2007 World Cup.

Yet ahead of the match it's England who are the more bullish having topped their Super Eights group with three comfortable wins. They are on the verge of fulfilling their transformation that began after losing 5-1 to Australia last summer. Gone is the stuttering top order hoping to 'keep wickets in hand' and in its place is a fearless line-up led by two dashing hitters at the top and followed by the classiest middle-order pair of the tournament, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, looked unsteady to begin with but have found increasingly assurance as the tournament went on. Mahela Jayewardene's graceful striking has completely carried Sri Lanka's batting - his 292 runs are more than anyone else in the tournament and over double the next highest Sri Lankan tally of 123 from Kumar Sangakkara - but they showed they could perform without him when they beat India. Nevertheless how England's nagging fast-medium attack fare against Jayewardene could well determine the outcome of the game.

Form guide (most recent first)

Sri Lanka WLWWL
England WWWNL

Watch out for...

Craig Kieswetter has fizzed without quite exploding yet in this tournament. But on the slow pitch his Michael Clarke-like twinkle-toed approach could see England off to a lightning start.

Suraj Randiv has stepped into the place vacated by Murali's injury and, with Ajantha Mendis' mysteries all but revealed, he has become Sri Lanka's leading spin weapon. They may be tempted to open the bowling with him after seeing Michael Lumb's dismissal to Johan Botha when South Africa adopted the same tactic.

Team news

Kevin Pietersen returns just in time after seeing the birth of his first child and will replace Ravi Bopara. Throughout the tournament Ryan Sidebottom has looked set to miss out for England's supposed attack-leader, James Anderson, but the selectors have refused to change.

England (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Craig Kieswetter, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Luke Wright, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Michael Yardy, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 Ryan Sidebottom.

Sri Lanka have been far less settled through the tournament so far. Mendis missed out against India but could return for an England side less used to him.

Sri Lanka (probable) 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Mahela Jayawardene, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), 4 Dinesh Chandimal, 5 Angelo Mathews, 6 Sanath Jayasuriya, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Suraj Randiv, 9 Ajantha Mendis, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Chanaka Welegedera.

Pitch and conditions

England may have adapted well to the conditions against New Zealand in their last game, but the slow and low surface in St Lucia will suit Sri Lanka. Their batsmen proved a touch shy of the pace and bounce in Barbados but will be much more comfortable here.

Stats and trivia

  • Sri Lanka won the only T20 encounter these two sides have played before. Way back in 2006 at Southampton, in a game where Tim Bresnan, England's best bowler this tournament, made his T20 debut.

    Quotes

    "Life is not exactly a hardship at the minute, you know?"
    Tim Bresnan keeps things in perspective.

    "We would love him to play. He's a top quality spinner, and England have probably played him once."
    Kumar Sangakkara would love to play his mystery spinner, but won't quite confirm he will.

    Sahil Dutta is assistant editor of Cricinfo