Holders Sri Lanka hoping to stave off elimination


Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara stretches during a training session on the eve of their must-win match against England at The Feroz Shah Kotla cricket ground in New Delhi. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI: Holders Sri Lanka face being dumped out of the World T20 today, unless they can overcome an England team desperate for runs to clinch their own spot in the semi-finals.

Due to a stuttering start to their title defence, the islanders cannot afford to lose in New Delhi even though they still have one more game to go.

England, meanwhile, will be hoping the failure of their top-order batsmen in Wednesday’s tie against Afghanistan was a mere blip and they can reproduce the swashbuckling form that helped them to a record-breaking victory over South Africa last weekend when they chased down a 229-run target.

Little has gone right for Sri Lanka of late and they were left reeling by the withdrawal of leading paceman Lasith Malinga at the start of the tournament with injury problems.

Their first two matches have included a defeat to West Indies and a less than convincing victory over Afghanistan.

Only one batsman has passed 40 and their fielding has been in shambles. Angelo Mathews, who replaced Malinga as skipper, said after the West Indies match that ‘the top order let us down’ and the team would work hard on their fielding as it had been ‘so sloppy’.

With the group still there for the taking, England not only need to win but they also need to sharply increase their run-rate.

Moeen Ali was their only batsman to get in the 40s against Afghanistan and a repeat may see them staring down the barrel.

England captain Eoin Morgan said he had no particular concerns about his top order but said the team would seek to regain their focus after their stuttering win over Afghanistan.

“It’s very important that between now and the Sri Lanka game that we sit as a group and emphasise what we are trying to do,” said Morgan, who hopes to be bolstered by the return of Alex Hales.

The opener missed Wednesday’s match with a back problem but Morgan was ‘confident he will be fit’ for today.

Source: AFP