Sri Lanka ready to beat England
AHMEDABAD - Sri Lanka will bank on their home advantage against an English side grappling with inconsistency and injuries in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final in Colombo.
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 on Saturday. "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.