Sri Lanka will take on the World Number 1 Twenty20 side, England in the 29th Game of the T20 World Cup in Sharjah today. The Super 12 Group 1 encounter is scheduled to get underway at 7.30pm.
Sri Lanka have to win against England today and the West Indies on Thursday and hope other results go their way to progress to the semi-final of the 2021 T20 World Cup. After winning all three of the qualifiers, they beat Bangladesh convincingly by five wickets in the first Super 12 stage game. Then the batting struggles were exposed as Australia and South Africa dismissed the Lankans cheaply and won the game by seven and four wickets respectively. Opener Pathum Nissanka is the leading runs scorer in the tournament with 169 in six outings including two fifties. Charith Asalanka has made 142 in four games while Bhanuka Rajapaksa has made 129 in five innings so far. But five half-centuries in six matches is not good enough in a World Cup and the form of experienced Kusal Janith Perera, Avishka Fernando and skipper Dasun Shanaka is a concern.
Bowling has been remarkable throughout the tournament. Wanindu Hasaranga is on top of the wicket takers tally with 11 while Maheesh Theekshana and Lahiru Kumara have picked up eight apiece. Lankans might be tempted to bolster their bowling more today against the formidable England batting by bringing in Akila Dhananjaya at the expense of Lahiru Kumara and might also call up Dhananjaya De Silva in place of out-of-form Avishka Fernando.
Meanwhile, Led by Eoin Morgan England are handsomely placed on top of the points table winning all three Super 12 encounters. They thrashed the West Indies in the first game then steamrolled Bangladesh in the second and overpowered their rivals Australia on Saturday. The English have depth in batting and bowling and they also have stars on the bench to call up if required. Jos Buttler and Jason Roy have been among the runs at the top while Tymal Mills, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, and Moeen Ali have been clinical with the ball. They are in a comfortable place and might be tempted to rest a few regulars and test their bench strength today against the Lankans who are struggling for consistency.
The Dasun Shanak-led team has played three matches of the World Cup on the Sharjah deck and should be able to read the pitch better than most. They will be looking to add a spinner to the line-up and chase with dew being a factor later in the day. Sri Lanka have won four and lost eight T20Is against England and will be wary of their exploits especially after meeting them in the summer.
Prediction: A win for the team chasing