Sri Lanka look for spin to beat injury-hit England
Colombo: Injury-ravaged but battle-hardened after playing a string of humdingers, England will aim for another upset when they take on strong contenders and co-hosts Sri Lanka in the last quarterfinal match of the cricket World Cup.
England endured a tumultuous campaign in the league stage besides dealing with one injury crisis after another but they have proved themselves a resurgent team and would look to carry forward that spirit against the title-favourites.
Sri Lanka, in contrast, have had a smooth ride into the quarters and would be contemplating whether to reverse back to a three-strong spin attack for the match at R Premadasa Stadium.
The Sri Lankans tried that formula against Australia in a Group `A` match, but couldn`t see how successful it would be as the game was abandoned halfway through due to rain.
The ploy could return when they take on England but leaving out seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara would prove to be a tough decision.
But for England, it would be about keeping their minds focussed given the tough road to the last-eight stage.
Before arriving in Sri Lanka they had three players, Kevin Pietersen, Ajmal Shahzad and Stuart Broad withdrawn due to injury while on Thursday, all-rounder Michael Yardy returned to the UK due to depression.
"It`s not by choice that we`ve had a few injuries. Broad and KP would always be in your first XI. But Tredders has come straight in having not played for a long time and got man of the match. Myself against South Africa coming in and getting Man of the Match," England all-rounder Ravi Bopara told reporters.
"Those sort of things give management belief and the rest of the team who have been playing together for a long time in Australia - it gives them belief that the new guys coming in are good enough to do a job," he added.
England have had a roller-coaster first round.
While they tied a high scoring game against co-hosts India, they were stunned by Ireland a few days later.
They recovered with another tight win against South Africa, but lost to Bangladesh in the penultimate Group `B` game.
Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene, said the fact that England have done well against stronger teams in this competition made them intimidating.