Bangalore: England take on Ireland on Wednesday looking for a big win not only to go top of World Cup Group B but also to give their net run-rate a much-needed boost.
England`s narrow win against Netherlands last week and the tied match with India on Sunday means that their run-rate (0.126) is relatively far below that of the West Indies (1.879) and India (0.870) as well as South Africa (0.766), the latter having played one match less in the group.
England`s bowling has been their weak spot having conceded two of their highest three World Cup totals (292 and 338) in their previous matches with the main culprit on both occasions being opening bowler James Anderson.
The good news, however, is that their batsmen have been in top form and have at least matched both scores, with skipper Andrew Strauss`s aggregate of 246 runs topping the scoring charts so far.
However, the expected return of in-form Stuart Broad after a stomach upset and Tim Bresnan`s career-best performance should help the bowlers put up a morale-boosting show against a mediocre batting line-up.
Ireland`s batting, led by the experienced Ed Joyce and brothers Niall and Kevin O`Brien, fought stubbornly but the lack of meaningful partnerships cost them a win against Bangladesh despite restricting them to a modest 205.
Ireland would probably hope to bat first not only because it is their strength but also because they could be sent on a massive leather hunt if England get first crack at a flat batting pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium which saw a record 676 runs on Sunday.
England beat Ireland at the last World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 by 48 runs.