England and Sri Lanka will face each other in a group stage clash at Headingley as England looks to secure a top four finish, whereas Sri Lanka look to move closer to it.
England vs Sri Lanka might have been an interesting fight even a couple of years back. But now, it’s nothing more than a battle where without an exception, England will reign supreme. That not only shows how Sri Lanka have decayed in recent years, but also England’s improvement, how they have gone from group stage dropouts to possible World Champions.
England’s improvement in the recent years have been astronomical. That defeat against Bangladesh at Adelaide changed their style of play, eradicating the old way which wasn’t up-to-date with modern cricket. From their batting style being 1990-ish, they have gone on to setting standards of limited over batting. Their Irish captain Eoin Morgan is largely to be thanked for that, as he was the one to orchestrate this change. On the other hand, Sri Lanka have gone down and down and further down. They have gone from beating the biggest teams regularly to getting beaten by almost every test playing nation easily. They are nothing like they were, and nowadays, they are hardly a threat.
England in this tournament have shown exactly what they had built up since 2015. Ruthless batting, a multidimensional bowling attack and a team full of brilliant fielders - a team which looks very hard to beat. Pakistan beat them, but probably everyone would agree that it was nothing but a bad day, when nothing went right. The anchor of their batting lineup, Joe Root has shown consistent form, while the other batsmen have scored big too. In their last match against Afghanistan, skipper Morgan struck a 71-ball 148, in which he broke the world record for most sixes in an ODI innings hitting 17 sixes. England in total hit the ball out of the park 25 times, which is a world record too. England currently sit third on the points table with eight points, but will go on top with a win because of a fairly superior net run rate, and they will surely be looking for that.
Sri Lanka has looked as much as lacklustre as they were for the recent year. They won their game against Afghanistan fairly easily, but the games they lost, they were completely dominated. They have four points in their bag, but that is mainly thanks to rain, as their washed out games against Pakistan and Bangladesh handed them a couple of points. Sri Lanka were the underdogs in both games, but now they still have their semi final hopes alive with rain being their dear friend. Their batting order, especially their middle order, have no clue of what to do, as they have crumbled in every match. Their bowling isn’t any upgrade either, as they have looked toothless against quality batting. A win against England might take them to fifth place, but they will surely need a miracle for that.
England are unlikely to make any changes to their lineup, as Jason Roy is still out with his hamstring tear. Liam Plunkett might be brought in considering the weakness against pace of the Sri Lankan middle order, Adil Rashid might have to make his way for him.
Probable Lineup - 1. James Vince, 2. Jonny Bairstow, 3. Joe Root, 4. Eoin Morgan ©, 5. Jos Butler (wk), 6. Ben Stokes, 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Chris Woakes, 9. Adil Rashid/Liam Plunkett, 10. Jofra Archer, 11. Mark Wood
Sri Lanka might bring in Avishka Fernando to replace Lahiru Thirimanne, as the latter lacks dynamism in his batting. Milinda Siriwardana looks to keep his place ahead of Jeevan Mendis, and Lasith Malinga is likely to play even though he just returned from another trip home.
Probable LIneup - 1. Dimuth Karunaratne (c), 2. Kusal Perera (wk), 3. Lahiru Thirimanne/Avishka Fernando, 4. Kusal Mendis, 5. Angelo Mathews, 6. Milinda Siriwardana, 7. Dhananjaya de Silva, 8. Thisara Perera, 9. Isuru Udana, 10. Lasith Malinga, 11. Nuwan Pradeep
Pitch and Conditions
Headingley is known for helping the seamers, but is likely to have a dry and flat pitch on Friday. The possibility of batsmen wreaking havoc is heavy, while the bowlers will get little help.
There is almost no possibility of rain, with the weather is set to be bright and sunny.