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England take on Sri Lanka in their second game of the competition on Thursday at the Kennington Oval in London. England go into this game on the back of a comprehensive victory against Australia on Friday while Sri Lanka's campaign began with a narrow one-wicket loss to New Zealand in Cardiff on Sunday. Sri Lanka will be desperate for a win knowing that without it they could be looking at an early exit from the tournament. Meanwhile, England know that a win will all but secure them a place in the semi-finals and will look to make the most of their home field advantage.
England look steady with the bat at the top of the order with the likes of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott all capable of switching between the defensive and attacking line of mindset with equal ease. Ian Bell was voted Man-of-the Match in England's last game against Australia for a match - winning knock of 91 and his good form in the recent past augurs well for England as they seek to win their first ever 50-over international cricket tournament. Eoin Morgan will be another player for England in the middle overs, as will all-rounder Ravi Bopara who is making a return to the England side after a significant period of time. The middle order for England is inexperienced this time round without the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood or Matt Prior, but the inexperience has given place to young batsmen such as Joe Root and Jos Butler with a reputation of being power-hitters to come in lower down the innings.
England's bowling is their real strength though, with the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and TIm Bresnan leading the way with their brilliant combination of pace, swing and accuracy. The familiarity and experience of the English conditions should definitely help the English bowlers in the competition too. England have picked James Tredwell as their front-line spinner over Graeme Swann, who is still recovering from an injury while The fifth bowler's role is one that could be shared between Ravi Bopara and Joe Root. Overall England are a very good bowling unit and they would hope to continue to perform to their potential in each game of theirs.
Sri Lanka have been disappointing as a unit first in their Warm-Up game against India and later in their first encounter against New Zealand at Cardiff. They would be terribly disappointed with their batting performance in the game against New Zealand where they bundled out for 138 inside 38 overs, especially considering that they ended up losing the game by 1 wicket at the end of the day. Except for Kumar Sangakkara's knock of 68, none of the Sri Lankan batsmen applied themselves well enough on a tricky wicket at Cardiff, and hung around long enough to string together partnerships. Sri Lanka have the talent and experience in their batting line-up to perform well against any opposition but they would desperately be hoping to apply themselves and post big totals in their future games.
The Sri Lankan bowlers nearly pulled off an incredible victory against New Zealand and the belief with which they took to the field and kept themselves in the game till the very end should in itself serve as an inspiration to them in their future games. Lasith Malinga was at his very best in the last game, bringing out his yorkers, changes in pace and deadly accuracy as he picked up 4 wickets and kept the pressure up from his end right through. He was well supported by Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath too which was a stark contrast from the performance of the batsmen earlier in the day. Part timer Tilakaratne Dilshan was also effective, going at a misery economy rate of 1.84 in his 6 overs, and picking up a crucial wicket. Sri Lanka would look to sustain the belief and confidence in their abilities which nearly took them to victory against New Zealand, when they take on the field against England.
England : Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara, Jos Butler, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, James Tredwell, James Anderson.
Sri Lanka : Kusal Perera, Tilakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimane, Thisara Perera, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga, Lasith Malinga.
Ian Bell : England have relied on Bell's good technique and temperament a great deal in the last 5-6 years and he has risen the ranks in the England batting charts quite admirably to fulfill his responsibility at the top of the order. England would hope for him to carry on with his good run of form and put in another strong performance against a good Sri Lankan bowling line-up.
Lasith Malinga: Sri Lankan's pace spearhead, Lasith Malinga nearly bowled his side to an improbable victory against New Zealand at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Sunday. Malinga's spell of 4-34 from his 10 overs in that game was among the best bowled in recent times in ODI cricket and he would look to keep up his form at the Oval on Thursday.
Pitch : The pitch at the Oval should again be hard and dry which should provide assistance to the bowlers in the first 10-15 overs of the innings. A total of 270 should be as good as match winning.
Prediction : England are the in-form side at the moment, but the grit shown by the Sri Lankan team at Cardiff was quite brilliant and they would be hoping to avenge their loss when they play England on Thursday. Sri Lanka will beat England at the Oval.
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