England v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20, 1st Semi-Final, St Lucia May 12, 2010

Sri Lanka hope for spin threat

44

Sri Lanka left it late to secure a place in the World Twenty20 semi-finals but now they are in the knockout stage their varied bowling attack could hold the key to success. Although without the services of Muttiah Muralitharan they can still throw the ball to Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis, who was left out of the final Super Eight match, and youngster Suraj Randiv.

Mendis has a strong chance of returning to face England who have seen little of his variations. The one occasion he has played against them was in the Champions Trophy last year when England thwarted him effectively at the Wanderers during a successful run chase as he went wicketless in nine overs. However, facing Mendis on a spring day in Johannesburg is a very different proposition to facing him on a low, slow surface that has aided spin in St Lucia.

Kumar Sangakkara was keeping his cards close to his chest, but it will be hugely tempting to use Mendis against a team that, even taking into account their impressive form, have a poor history against mystery spin.

"We'll have to have a think about that, how that works with our combinations and batting. We would love him to play," Sangakkara said. "I think he's a top quality spinner and England's probably played him once. It's a realistic possibility but we've got other spinners, even part-timers who are pretty good."

But he isn't the only threat. Malinga, like a few of the big-name Sri Lankan players, hasn't quite been at his best in this tournament but with the sudden death stages now here he can be the ultimate matchwinner. He was impressive against India where his 2 for 25 played a key role in restricted a late-order charge and Paul Collingwood is certainly on his guard despite the strong form of England's top order.

"A few of us have played against them. But it is obviously a little slight concern," he said. "Quite a lot of the guys haven't played against the angle of Malinga, his skiddiness, his change-ups - and not many of us have played much against Mendis.

"When guys are bowling 24 balls at you, you can't give yourself six or seven to get yourself in against them. That's one of the things we need to make sure we overcome; we need to watch as much footage as possible and talk about it between ourselves. That's another great thing, that we are communicating really well. Players who have played against them are passing tips on to the other guys, and I think that's helping a lot."

England haven't seen anything of 25-year-old Randiv but despite playing just three Twenty20 internationals he is highly regarded by the Sri Lanka hierarchy. He started life as a pace bowler before finding offspin was his vocation and despite not possessing the variety of Muralitharan and Mendis he can still be a handful as he showed against Australia.

"The one thing Sri Lanka have got is that they are quite unorthodox in terms of a lot of the bowlers. That is something the batters will have to come up against," Collingwood said. "But we have a lot of strength in our side now so as much as we will prepare for Sri Lanka and the kind of unorthodox styles that they do have we also have to remember our strengths as well and I think there are plenty of them in our side as well."

Sangakkara, while acknowledging how well England have played over the last week, remained confident that conditions would suit his attack. "We would like to think so, we've got a lot of variation in our bowling attack. We will try to exploit that in these conditions but we've got to think of all the angles.

"We are trying to concentrate a lot on what we do best and how we can get England reacting to us with our bowling, our field-placings and our batting," he added. "It's going to be about how we exploit the conditions to our strengths."

Semi-finals of major tournaments can be won with a little bit of magic and Sri Lanka have players who can produce such moments.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Deepfreezed on May 13, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    what a useless team SRI is. All the opponents needs in someone that does above 140Kmph.

  • on May 13, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    I think it will be AUS and England Final. England looks very good to win championship for the first time so does red hot Australia. But you never know with depleted Pakistan team if they pull a miracle by beating Australia than England will be a walk in the park for Pakistan. all in all any one of the three has a chance. Only SL looks very weak

  • cric-kaka on May 13, 2010, 14:14 GMT

    I like SL but ENG has played well. However in T20 things are unpredictable to say the least and especially in the KO stages. I would pray for SL to provide that magical performance.

  • on May 13, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    hallo cricket is very tuff balance leveler game >>so if s/lanka still in his murli days then be aware of p`cwood;& company they are good players of spin>as always k.p`son is trump card ;if they click 10 balls of spin then be ready 4 blast all the way>>watch out mr k s`kara <<<very tricky situation >>>

  • Kushh on May 13, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Sanath has lost his eye sight. its like watching a blind man batting. Shame on u sanath ! for letting politics, not performance carry ur place in the team

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    Me thinx England dont have much chance against Srilanka. England were hardly impressive without Pieterson against Pakistan, they can do well against NZ or out-of-form SA.

  • SenorPepper on May 13, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    I hope that after this tournament the Sri Lankan selectors will take a long hard look at Sanath Jayasuriya. I understand that he is in better shape - always has been - than some of the 'youngsters' in the team and if one would listen to the incessant chirping of his fans, just needs one good knock to find form. But, that one good knock has not come yet and you cannot compromise the future of Sri Lankan cricket by being kind to an once devastating player. The selectors should have a quiet talk with Sanath and suggest that he walk away from the game so we who once applauded his audacious batting remember him for what he has done and not for what he did not do when he needed to. Perhaps, Murali could also mentor Suraj before he too slips into the what is soon to be the twilight of his illustrious career. As for Sangakkara, he should pay more attention to leading his team by focusing on his batting rather than craft shrewd pseudo-psychiatrist like comments to rattle opponents.

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    Drop the MP and give the chance to a younger player. Let Mahela and Dilshan open. Come on Sri Lanka.

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    if SL cannot post a meaningful opening stand winning prospect is bleak and the pom strategy would be to prevent that happening and with so many combinations anything could happen regradless of who plays. Sanath ought to hang his boots for the simple reason realise that things are not clciking right

  • ramsen76 on May 13, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    sanga...pull up ur socks...drop SJ...it's better to give chandimal a chance instead of carrying a name around as the 11th player...dont drop thisara perera....these guys will win us a future

  • Deepfreezed on May 13, 2010, 16:26 GMT

    what a useless team SRI is. All the opponents needs in someone that does above 140Kmph.

  • on May 13, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    I think it will be AUS and England Final. England looks very good to win championship for the first time so does red hot Australia. But you never know with depleted Pakistan team if they pull a miracle by beating Australia than England will be a walk in the park for Pakistan. all in all any one of the three has a chance. Only SL looks very weak

  • cric-kaka on May 13, 2010, 14:14 GMT

    I like SL but ENG has played well. However in T20 things are unpredictable to say the least and especially in the KO stages. I would pray for SL to provide that magical performance.

  • on May 13, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    hallo cricket is very tuff balance leveler game >>so if s/lanka still in his murli days then be aware of p`cwood;& company they are good players of spin>as always k.p`son is trump card ;if they click 10 balls of spin then be ready 4 blast all the way>>watch out mr k s`kara <<<very tricky situation >>>

  • Kushh on May 13, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Sanath has lost his eye sight. its like watching a blind man batting. Shame on u sanath ! for letting politics, not performance carry ur place in the team

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    Me thinx England dont have much chance against Srilanka. England were hardly impressive without Pieterson against Pakistan, they can do well against NZ or out-of-form SA.

  • SenorPepper on May 13, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    I hope that after this tournament the Sri Lankan selectors will take a long hard look at Sanath Jayasuriya. I understand that he is in better shape - always has been - than some of the 'youngsters' in the team and if one would listen to the incessant chirping of his fans, just needs one good knock to find form. But, that one good knock has not come yet and you cannot compromise the future of Sri Lankan cricket by being kind to an once devastating player. The selectors should have a quiet talk with Sanath and suggest that he walk away from the game so we who once applauded his audacious batting remember him for what he has done and not for what he did not do when he needed to. Perhaps, Murali could also mentor Suraj before he too slips into the what is soon to be the twilight of his illustrious career. As for Sangakkara, he should pay more attention to leading his team by focusing on his batting rather than craft shrewd pseudo-psychiatrist like comments to rattle opponents.

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:41 GMT

    Drop the MP and give the chance to a younger player. Let Mahela and Dilshan open. Come on Sri Lanka.

  • on May 13, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    if SL cannot post a meaningful opening stand winning prospect is bleak and the pom strategy would be to prevent that happening and with so many combinations anything could happen regradless of who plays. Sanath ought to hang his boots for the simple reason realise that things are not clciking right

  • ramsen76 on May 13, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    sanga...pull up ur socks...drop SJ...it's better to give chandimal a chance instead of carrying a name around as the 11th player...dont drop thisara perera....these guys will win us a future

  • RanilDeSIlva on May 13, 2010, 12:44 GMT

    Sri Lanka has NOT LOST even once in a ICC Semi-final event.. Whenever they had come to a Semi Final Stage, they had gone on to win it and advance to the finals... so what are we talking about? and as per my knowledge it is the 5th Semi Final Sri Lanka are facing in their recent history (Since 1996) and they should win today against England for sure without any issue...

  • Andare on May 13, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    What most of you guys are forgetting is that Sanath is in this team as a bawler.. But because of his ability to bat, he opens the batting.. So even if he's out of form and not scoring, he's definitely not taking another batsman's place in the team.. If anyone wants to argue about his place in the team argue about his bawling compared to other bowlers..

    In my opinion though, if Sri Lanka is to win this tournament, Sanath and/or Dilshan has to fire.. Mahela cant do it by himself against ENG and AUS.. Don't drop Sana!! Kumar, give him some encouraging words, like you do to Kapu and Angelo.. That might do the trick..

  • Shen_Mark on May 13, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    1.Mahela 2.Dilshan 3.Sangakkara 4.Chandimal 5.Mathews 6.Kapugedara 7.Jayasuriya 8.Perera 9.Randiv 10.Mendis 11. Malinga....Sanath is in for his spinners and shouldn't be in the finals unless he performs well with the bat ( at least a glimpse of something to come up next). Dilshan should open, no doubts about that, he has got back the touch. England haven't played Chandimal or Randiv, which could be an advantage. Also Perera should play instead of Jayasinghe, he bowls well, and is handy with the bat as well. Finals : SL Vs Aus/Pak

  • on May 13, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    lions should rock today... come on guys

  • sandeep.sandy on May 13, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    Hope SANATH fires today.He just needs one good innings to get back to form.His fitness levels are very good even better than some youngsters in the team.So its just that one innings and SANATH would be back on track.We all know how dangerous batsman he can be and his off spinners are very effective.

  • on May 13, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    Come on Sri Lanka you can do it. All the best to Sanga and his young chaps. Only problem you have is what to do with Sanath J. Drop him and give Dinesh Chandimal the chance to make it.

  • on May 13, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    Without Sana Boy that would be great

  • on May 13, 2010, 11:07 GMT

    if SL goes to the finals it would have an advantage. it has been seen in t20 tournaments the team that fails to win the final wins in the next tournament.....

  • Nish_S on May 13, 2010, 10:58 GMT

    The MP needs to go...Sanath has done NOTHING the whole tournament..and still continues to play!! WHY??? what he's done before is the past...aussies dropped Steve Waugh when he didnt perform...we need to do d same with Sunny. Team for the final : 1. Mahela 2. Dilshan 3. Chandimal 4. Sanga 5. Mathews 6. Kapugedara 7. Thisara Perera 8. Jayasinghe 9. Randhiv 10. Mendis 11. Malinga

    Here we have batting upto 9, 3 pacies, 2 spinners n 1 part time spinner in dilshan!!

    GO LANKA!!

  • on May 13, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    Sri Lanka favorites, England cannot be ruled out too. It's a 50/50 chance for both. Best wishes

  • Aboofiras_al on May 13, 2010, 10:11 GMT

    It is confirmed that Mendis will play today.good to see him in spin friendly slow wicket.Chandimal should be picked inpalce of Chinthaka Jayasinghe.Dont open the bat with Sanath.Dilshan is an attacking batsman.he proved lot in the opening position.He got the momentum back.So This would be my favourite team to play today's semifinal.Mahela, Dilshan, Sanga' Chandimal, Mathews,Kapugedara, Sanath,Tissera Perera,Randiv, Malinga ,Mendis.We have enough bowling option.and Tissera also bowling well. No need another allrounder like Chintaka.So picking Chandimal will be good option.Go Srilanka.

  • on May 13, 2010, 10:04 GMT

    All the Best SL. U can do it today and in the final too.

  • on May 13, 2010, 9:39 GMT

    Come on Srilanka! I agree with Sanki88, But srilanka have a very good chance to beat England today. All the best Sanga & co.

  • on May 13, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    I hope will be win today game!

  • on May 13, 2010, 8:58 GMT

    With the first Semi-final a few hours away, here is wishing a cracker of a contest between Sri Lankans and English outfits. May the better team wins it.

    On another note, I would hate to see the result decided through D/L method. I believe the D/L works fine for ODIs but when it comes to T20s, it gets ridiculously one-sided!!

  • muhmmad7676 on May 13, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    i am backing sri lanka to win this semi because the way they played the last game would give them a lot of confidence and also their players have returned to form.

  • sachithsand on May 13, 2010, 6:53 GMT

    lions are going to roar like hell today.Time to thrash the English boys!!

  • GlobalCricketLover on May 13, 2010, 6:36 GMT

    I would only be fair for Eng and Aus to reach the finals. No other team was impressive and SL and Pak had plenty of luck for them to reach this stage.

  • popcorn on May 13, 2010, 6:19 GMT

    Sri Lanka will win. They have the ideal bowler for this surface - Ajanta Mendis,who will bamboozle the England batsmen with his carrom ball,sliger Malinga's fast bowling, and a strong batting line-up that bats upto no.9.

  • on May 13, 2010, 6:09 GMT

    No Mendis Pls.. Hope SL will play d Same Team played against India.. Bringing Chandimal in instead of Sanath.. !

  • TiwariIndia on May 13, 2010, 5:17 GMT

    Its going to be SL this time! Not only in today's match but also in the final too. They have got the dangerous Dilshan back in form and such great big match players with some promising young talent. England too has a very good side but somehow I feel their batting can be patchy if Morgan and KP don't fire, especially against SL spinners. I am not a hard core SL fan but the equations and statistics are yelling that it would be really hard for England to beat SL today -- CT

  • Sanki88 on May 13, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    The last sentence says it all. Semis are not about how you did previously, it's a do or die situation. There's no underdog here. I think Sri Lanka will win.

  • on May 13, 2010, 4:31 GMT

    Sri Lanka's only concern would be a sudden failure of their top and middle order. If they manage to post a decent total on the board, Sri lanka has enough fire power to restrict England to a moderate score. In case Sri Lanka is given the chance to chase, unless Mahela Jayawardene / Sanga or Dilshan fires at the top, it will expose the vulnerability of Sri Lanka's middle order. But then again, its the land of the freak show! So anything is possible... Go Sanga... lead us to a another T20 Worldcup final and lets win it this time aorund!

  • Shafi79 on May 13, 2010, 3:04 GMT

    Go SL! We know you can beat em, all the best to the boys and i hope mendis plays, drop Sanath, maybe kulasekara for Thusara who was not impressive in the last game.

  • Indike on May 13, 2010, 1:12 GMT

    On political influence, if Sanath Jayasuriya has to play the semifinal, please send the legend two down in the batting order and send TM Dilshan to open with Mahela. Dilshan was hitting clean shots on the other day and it would be good to have two inform batsmen to take advantage of the field restrictions. Also, if Sanath is going to play please don't send him as a tail-end batsmen, it was very embarrassing to watch the legend come so down in the batting order... Sanga--I know Sanath shouldn't be playing, but you don't have to be rude on him… Just a thought only.

  • zzboyz on May 13, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Sri Lanka would definetley make it. Dilshan and Mahela will have opening power. KP and Morgan wil both have to score at least 40 to get close to the score. England's bowling attack will have to kick up. Swann has to be a big matchwinner.

  • on May 13, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    i think sri lanka should go with mendis because he is one of the best spinner. i wish sri lanka and england all the best 4 their game tomorow..

  • yorkslanka on May 12, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    it will be very difficult to beat England on their current form and we will definately go into the match as underdogs..having said that the wicket should favour our spin attack and batsmen apart from Jayawardena are starting to come into form. We were in the same position that England are now, last year and the only game we lost was the final !!Good luck to SL.....

  • Ellis on May 12, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    The best approach for the Sri Lankans is to say as little as possible before the match, and, to bring their "A" game to the match. They are quite capable of beating England even though England have played well during this tournament. The Sri Lankan batting has to be more productive. The fielding has not been of a consistently high standard. Even though Mendis might be a surprise package as a bowler, he is far from International standard as a fielder. Jayasuriya must bowl more. The last match against India showed Sri Lanka how important the last five overs are whether batting or bowling. Sri Lanka can go all the way with discipline and a little luck. Go Sri Lanka!

  • getrealforreal on May 12, 2010, 19:57 GMT

    Please drop Jayasuriya. He's one of the greatest cricket players all time but it's beyond sad to see him lingering around just because the politics in Sri Lanka wont let the selectors and Sangakkara cut him. There's bunch of bright eyed young lads waiting on the sideline to take a crack at it. Just look at how Kapugedara and Mathews took care of business yesterday. The fact that he's now a politician with obvious political connections makes his stay in the team even more dubious. Please don't let Sri Lanka cricket turn into a Pakistani farce (no disrespect to Pakistani fans but you know the how politics affects your national team). The Sri Lankan team cannot afford to linger on the old glory days of 1996 world cup when Jayasuriya was at his top form. He was 26 then. Now he's a bitter 40 year old politician from Matara. Move on.

  • shrimmyboy on May 12, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    Suprising that England are favourites, On form alone Yes england are favourites but taking into account the conditions and SL spinners , SL are slightly ahead. The only threat to SL would be Eoin Morgan and when it comes to the ENG bowling attack it has no big names (James Anderson apart but its unlikely that he'll be playing tomorrow) , SL who are generally good players of spin will easily cope with Yardy and Swann. The only weakness of SL is there inconsistent batting line up. I would Definitely put my money on SL ... hoping for a close and exciting game..:)

  • on May 12, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    lankan spinners will stun englishmen........................

  • DwightR on May 12, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    i think we all know that mendis will be playing as he is still a mystery to england, and randiv has been impressive the real question is who the pacers will be as sanga has been rotating them like a revolving door, outside of malinga and matthews will he play kulu, welegedara, thursara or perrera? after the last performance i hope perrera stays on the side

  • jawana on May 12, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Well, I don't see Eng pass through this tough test against SL keeping in view the slowish pitch, the dangerous SL spin attack, Eng weakness against quality spin and weak English bowling. Whereas, I can see SL batsmen getting easy runs on this track as yesterday they showed against India. England played well against NZ but there is huge difference between NZ and SL bowling attack.

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  • jawana on May 12, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    Well, I don't see Eng pass through this tough test against SL keeping in view the slowish pitch, the dangerous SL spin attack, Eng weakness against quality spin and weak English bowling. Whereas, I can see SL batsmen getting easy runs on this track as yesterday they showed against India. England played well against NZ but there is huge difference between NZ and SL bowling attack.

  • DwightR on May 12, 2010, 19:14 GMT

    i think we all know that mendis will be playing as he is still a mystery to england, and randiv has been impressive the real question is who the pacers will be as sanga has been rotating them like a revolving door, outside of malinga and matthews will he play kulu, welegedara, thursara or perrera? after the last performance i hope perrera stays on the side

  • on May 12, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    lankan spinners will stun englishmen........................

  • shrimmyboy on May 12, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    Suprising that England are favourites, On form alone Yes england are favourites but taking into account the conditions and SL spinners , SL are slightly ahead. The only threat to SL would be Eoin Morgan and when it comes to the ENG bowling attack it has no big names (James Anderson apart but its unlikely that he'll be playing tomorrow) , SL who are generally good players of spin will easily cope with Yardy and Swann. The only weakness of SL is there inconsistent batting line up. I would Definitely put my money on SL ... hoping for a close and exciting game..:)

  • getrealforreal on May 12, 2010, 19:57 GMT

    Please drop Jayasuriya. He's one of the greatest cricket players all time but it's beyond sad to see him lingering around just because the politics in Sri Lanka wont let the selectors and Sangakkara cut him. There's bunch of bright eyed young lads waiting on the sideline to take a crack at it. Just look at how Kapugedara and Mathews took care of business yesterday. The fact that he's now a politician with obvious political connections makes his stay in the team even more dubious. Please don't let Sri Lanka cricket turn into a Pakistani farce (no disrespect to Pakistani fans but you know the how politics affects your national team). The Sri Lankan team cannot afford to linger on the old glory days of 1996 world cup when Jayasuriya was at his top form. He was 26 then. Now he's a bitter 40 year old politician from Matara. Move on.

  • Ellis on May 12, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    The best approach for the Sri Lankans is to say as little as possible before the match, and, to bring their "A" game to the match. They are quite capable of beating England even though England have played well during this tournament. The Sri Lankan batting has to be more productive. The fielding has not been of a consistently high standard. Even though Mendis might be a surprise package as a bowler, he is far from International standard as a fielder. Jayasuriya must bowl more. The last match against India showed Sri Lanka how important the last five overs are whether batting or bowling. Sri Lanka can go all the way with discipline and a little luck. Go Sri Lanka!

  • yorkslanka on May 12, 2010, 21:28 GMT

    it will be very difficult to beat England on their current form and we will definately go into the match as underdogs..having said that the wicket should favour our spin attack and batsmen apart from Jayawardena are starting to come into form. We were in the same position that England are now, last year and the only game we lost was the final !!Good luck to SL.....

  • on May 13, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    i think sri lanka should go with mendis because he is one of the best spinner. i wish sri lanka and england all the best 4 their game tomorow..

  • zzboyz on May 13, 2010, 0:24 GMT

    Sri Lanka would definetley make it. Dilshan and Mahela will have opening power. KP and Morgan wil both have to score at least 40 to get close to the score. England's bowling attack will have to kick up. Swann has to be a big matchwinner.

  • Indike on May 13, 2010, 1:12 GMT

    On political influence, if Sanath Jayasuriya has to play the semifinal, please send the legend two down in the batting order and send TM Dilshan to open with Mahela. Dilshan was hitting clean shots on the other day and it would be good to have two inform batsmen to take advantage of the field restrictions. Also, if Sanath is going to play please don't send him as a tail-end batsmen, it was very embarrassing to watch the legend come so down in the batting order... Sanga--I know Sanath shouldn't be playing, but you don't have to be rude on him… Just a thought only.