England return to action in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh with a tough-looking test against the Sri Lankans in Chittagong on Thursday afternoon.
Date: Thursday, March 27
Time: 1:30 p.m. GMT/9:30 a.m. ET (7.30 p.m. local)
Live on: Sky Sports 2
Sri Lanka top the Super 10 Group A standings after proving five runs too good for South Africa before making light work of the Netherlands to claim two wins, while England endured disappointment in their first match.
Thunderstorms dictated New Zealand’s victory over on England on Saturday as a 52-1 total after 5.2 overs was enough to beat England’s 172 via the Duckworth-Lewis method. This time around, though, Ashley Giles’ side are hoping to beat the elements as well as the opposition.
According to Vic Marks of The Guardian, Sri Lanka have beaten England in each of their last three ICC tournament fixtures and come into Thursday’s match full of confidence after their Dutch demolition.
Angelo Mathews made 3-for-16 as the Netherlands were dismissed for 39 after just 10.3 overs, leaving Kusal Perera, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene to cruise to a nine-wicket victory.
Praise was heaped onto Sri Lanka’s bowlers and rightly so, as the Netherlands' 39 total was the lowest ever in T20 history, per the Indian Cricket Team Twitter account:
But England pose a much sterner test than the Dutch, and will come into Thursday’s clash with an all-or-nothing attitude as their competition threatens to peter out with whimper.
Ravi Bopara, who was at the crease as the 20 overs ticked over against New Zealand, spoke to Vic Marks of The Guardian to voice just how big a matchup the Sri Lanka game is. "It is a must-win game for us. I don't think we know the mathematical side of it. We have to win. Winning against Sri Lanka would be a big thing for us, a big confidence boost."
England far from disgraced themselves with their 176-6 total against the Kiwis, with Moeen Ali in particularly impressive shape with the bat.
He punished the New Zealand bowlers and took the game by the scruff of the neck, which he’ll need to do again against Sri Lanka.
England Cricket tweeted their praise for the left-hander just two runs before his dismissal, as he chalked up another boundary:
Moeen Ali adds to his boundary count over fine leg for 4. 34 from 18 balls #wt20— England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) March 22, 2014
England will also count on Michael Lumb at the top of the order, who showed positive intent during his 33 last week. He needs the rest of the batsmen to follow suit if his side are to take a scalp in Chittagong.
Eoin Morgan requires just six more runs to reach make 1,000 runs in T20Is and will become just the second player to reach the feat after Kevin Pietersen.
Do England's young side have what it takes to beat Sri Lanka?
The 2010 champions have won just one T20 against Sri Lanka in four attempts—the semi-final of their successful tournament four years ago.
Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara is the only seam bowler ranked among the top 10 in the T20 format, having taken 39 wickets in 36 T20Is.
Meanwhile, Ravi Bopara has showed his worth to the England cause with his dot ball percentage, as OptaJim revealed via Twitter:
3 - @ravibopara has the lowest tournament dot ball %, 15+ balls faced. In T20Is since Jan 2013 he has the 3rd lowest % (100+ balls). Answer.— OptaJim (@OptaJim) March 26, 2014
All statistics via ESPNcricinfo.com.