In-form Lanka ready to sink patchy England

AHMEDABAD, India, (Reuters) – Sri Lanka will bank  on their home advantage against an English side grappling with  inconsistency and injuries in today’s World Cup quarter-final  in Colombo.

Lasith Malinga

Consistency has been a real problem for England who narrowly  escaped an upset against the Netherlands, tied with India, went  down to Ireland before losing to Bangladesh in the group stages  of the showpiece event.

Injuries have not helped England’s cause either.

As if losing Kevin Pietersen (hernia), Stuart Broad (side  strain) and Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) to injuries was not bad  enough, all-rounder Michael Yardy was the latest to fly back  home suffering from depression.

The problems mean the reigning Twenty20 champions have never  looked like a settled team in the competition they are aiming to  win for the first time.

Broad’s absence weakened the England bowling attack and  despite off-spinner Graeme Swann’s form, it has not been enough  to instil fear into the minds of their opponents.

The batting, barring Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott, has  had its issues with most of the problems starting at the top of  the order. England have struggled with their opening pair after  the departure of Pietersen and Matt Prior has failed to shine in  the role so far.

They might have to look for a different opening partner for  captain Strauss today.

“When I was told I would be opening when KP went down, it  wasn’t a done decision for the whole tournament,” Prior said.

“There wasn’t a decision made that I would be opening for  the rest of the competition.”


Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have no such problems and are  brimming with confidence.

Barring the blip against Pakistan, the co-hosts have lived  up to their billing as one of the favourites with their batting  complementing their strong bowling line-up.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara has led the side from the front,  evident from his position at the top of the scorers’ list at the  end of the group stages.

In Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis  the 1996 champions have a potent attack which can prove a  handful for any batting line-up and more so in their home  conditions.

If England were hoping for a respite from Muralitharan, who  suffered a hamstring injury while batting against New Zealand  last week, they will be disappointed.

The game’s most successful bowler is expected to be fit and  is raring to go come today.

“I think he did a bit of running and soft bowing and he  bowled yesterday as well,” Mahela Jayawardene told reporters on  Thursday. “He is fine and I think he will have his sessions tomorrow  and its up to him to how he wants to prepare for the game… We  won’t question him.”

Jayawardene also warned his team against complacency.

“I think all their games were very close. But if you  analyse, the few games they lost were pretty close and they beat  some of the top teams (South Africa and West Indies)… and we  cannot be complacent about what they have done in the group  stage,” the former captain said.

“They are a quality side… They got good players and they  can turn things around.”

But England’s Prior probably summed it up best.  “We haven’t played our best and we go into the  quarter-finals as underdogs against the very strong Sri Lanka  team,” he said, not mincing a single word.

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