Sri Lanka face the daunting task of having to defeat a highly ominous England, the No.1 team in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 when the two sides meet at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium today at 7.30 p.m.. England comes out with an unbeaten record having routed arch foes Australia in their last match. In that 8-wicket triumph Jos Butler led the way with an unbeaten 71 off 32 balls hammering 66 for the first wicket with Jason Roy (22) while Chris Jordan with 3 for 17 and Chris Woakes 2 for 23 did the job with the ball.
With the Sharjah pitch said to have the dew factor, the game could well revolve around spin which would be a plus for the Lankan spinners headed by champion bowler leggie Wanindu Hasaranga. However, it would mean that the wicket would not be conducive for batting and would require wholehearted effort to the batters dictating terms on a trying wicket. The Lankans would certainly be up against a clinical England batting line up.
Going on paper of the last meeting between the two sides when Sri Lanka toured England during the summer, Eoin Morgan’s team had an easy roll over. Since then the Lankans have raised their game with several youngsters having raised the bar particularly the 24-year old Charith Asalanka who rose from a poor tour to coming good in both ODIs and T20s with four half centuries under his belt. His unbeaten 80 cameo against Bangladesh underscored that turnaround, and the left-hander running himself out in the decisive game against South Africa was a costly blow to his side’s hopes of reaching the last four when looking in good nick on 21 having belted a boundary and six. Had Sri Lanka made it there they would have been sitting pretty in second spot of Group 1.
With that having gone asunder, the Lankan camp will need to script a truly out of the box effort to go past the English to keep their semi-final hopes alive. A big question mark in that final equation to getting the best eleven to do duty will be the sudden form loss of Avishka Fernando where skipper Charith Asalanka and team management will need to look at the technically perfect Dhananjaya de Silva given the nature of the Sharjah track and the right-hander’s record of having done little wrong in fronting difficult team situations when the chips were down to batting the side out of the rut in fronting difficult team situations when the chips were down to batting the side out of the rut. His part time slow bowling is a plus point on the Sharjah track.
SRI LANKA SQUAD:
Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Pathum Nissanka
Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera
Dasun Shanaka (c), Dhananjaya de Silva (vc), Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga
Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Maheesh Theekshana, Akila Dananjaya, Binura Fernando
Eoin Morgan (c), Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan
Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow
Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Chris Woakes
Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood