As we have been reading everywhere in the build-up to this game in Wellington this really is a must-win game for England, but then every game for England is a must-win one.
To be honest, even before the World Cup started we all knew that this meeting with Sri Lanka was going to be a very big game, but given how things have gone and how well Sri Lanka played in their last game against Bangladesh it suddenly seems even bigger, and I’m really hopeful that England will do well.
Unleashing The Hales Storm
Given the nature of the game and the fact that England have to be aggressive, I really think that the selectors should turn to Alex Hales at the top of the order.
We’ve seen how teams have really gone for it during this tournament, thinking that the sky is the limit and aiming for 400. It’s been ultra-aggressive cricket and that’s been wonderful to see.
In the spirit of this, Hales should be given a go.
No Piece Of Cake
The match is being played at Wellington’s ‘Cake Tin’, and much has been made of England’s dismal recent record there – being dismissed for 89, 130 and 123 in their last three matches.
However all of those matches were against New Zealand, and this is the one ground above all others that the Kiwis know how to play on.
The fact that this is against Sri Lanka takes that factor away, but the Sri Lankans will have been watching England and will have a very clear idea of what they have to do. England will need to be on their guard, but they’ll also need to be really aggressive.
Sri Lanka’s Three Kings
Sri Lanka are blessed with three quite incredible cricketers in the top five of their order.
Kumar Sangakkara looked to be in poor form before the other night against Bangladesh in Melbourne, but his 105 not out off just 76 balls was fantastic and underlined just what a special player he is.
The real one to watch for me though is Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has a wonderful record against England and batted unbelievably well for his 161 not out the other night.
Those two are incredibly tough to stop if they get going, and I haven’t even mentioned Mahela Jayawardene yet. He’s just a phenomenon!
Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad are going to have to get the ball moving early doors against them, as if you can get them out cheaply then it’ll somewhat knock the stuffing out of Sri Lanka.
England Getting On Top
Sri Lanka’s bowling isn’t a strength, though, and I think England can get on top of it.
Lasith Malinga isn’t as young as he once was, and although he’s still a class player he doesn’t quite carry that same fear factor as before, whilst of course there is no-one of the class of Muttiah Muralitharan any more.
If they are batting first England should go out there and aim for 400, and you don’t lose many games from there.
I’m going for England to win this one at a price of 1.87.
Much has been made of the bad start to the tournament, but other teams have had a bad start as well, and I reckon we’ll bounce back as we’ll be determined to put the New Zealand nightmare behind us and build on the win over Scotland.
In terms of star performers, I reckon Joe Root will build on his good innings at the Cake Tin last time and can top score for England at 5.00, or 10.00 for the match. He bats well against the swinging ball.
Speaking of swing, my old mate Jimmy Anderson can get some wickets here and so I’ll back him to be England’s top bowler at 4.00 (7.50 in the match).
For Sri Lanka, you can’t look beyond Dilshan to impress at 4.50 to be their top scorer and 8.50 in the match, whilst I reckon Rangana Herath is due a few wickets, and he’s a good price of 4.75 to be their top bowler and 8.00 to take the most in the match.