Sri Lanka begin preperations for England

Sri Lanka could not have asked for a more favorable draw for the World Cup quarterfinals, playing at home against an inconsistent England lineup that just scraped into the knockout stage.

The Sri Lankans won the last World Cup that was staged in Asia — in 1996 — and reached the final in the last edition before losing to Australia.



And the Sri Lankans are determined to send Muttiah Muralitharan, the all-time leading bowler in test and limited-overs cricket, into retirement with a second World Cup title.



Sri Lanka qualified comfortably, while England went through the most nerve-racking results in the tournament with shocking defeats against Ireland and Bangladesh.



Andrew Strauss' English squad held off the West Indies in a dramatic end to a must-win match last Thursday, then watched on TV in their New Delhi hotel as South Africa quashed the hopes of Bangladesh in the last Group B match, dragging England and India into the next stage with them.



A sensational high-scoring tie against India and victories over South Africa, Netherlands and the West Indies gave England seven points to make the knockout cut.



"It's been pretty incredible, tiring and a little bit frustrating that we haven't quite put it all together," batsman Ian Bell said.



Despite its bumpy run in the World Cup, Strauss and England No. 3 batsman Jonathan Trott are in good form.



Trott (336) has scored four half centuries and is second behind Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara (363) on the chart of leading runscorers in the tournament.



Strauss is not far behind with 329 runs, including 158 in the tied game against India.



While English's top order has handled the slow subcontinent wickets reasonably well, its fast bowlers — primarily Lancashire's James Anderson — has disappointed.



Anderson's poor form — a combined 4-282 in five matches — forced Strauss to drop the 28-year-old paceman from the last match against the West Indies.



As expected, offspinner Graeme Swann has been the main wicket-taker for England with 12, three ahead of seamer Tim Bresnan. James Tredwell's spin worked spectacularly well in his only match, returning 4-48 against West Indies.



Strauss had to make some tough decisions when he gave opportunities to allrounder Luke Wright in place of veteran allrounder Paul Collingwood in a close 18-run win over the West Indies last week.



Wright scored 44 while Tredwell did more than enough to justify his inclusion at Anderson's expense.



England had twice scored totals of more than 300 runs, but they might find it tough to score at R. Premadasa Stadium on Saturday.



Pakistan successfully defended 277-7 against Sri Lanka but in the other matches at the venue, teams batting first have failed to cross the 200-run mark. Sri Lanka looked set to post a decent total and were at 146-3 before rain abandoned its group match against Australia. The defending champion Australians were skittled for 176 in a four-wicket loss to Pakistan on the weekend, ending a 34-match unbeaten stretch at the World Cup.



With the likes of Muralitharan and paceman Lasith Malinga among Sri Lanka's ranks it will be an enormous test for the English batsmen.



Bell believed England has enough firepower left to go ahead in the tournament.



"Three games, and we can win a World Cup," he said. "It's very clear to us what we have to do, and I'm sure there are a lot of teams around that don't really want to play England because they don't quite know what they're going to get at the minute."



While England has numerous problems, Sri Lanka stuttered only once in the group stage in a narrow, 11-run loss to group winner Pakistan.



Sangakkara along with his deputy Mahela Jayawardene and opening pair of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga are in great batting form and all have scored centuries.



There's a a slight worry over Muralitharan's fitness ahead of Saturday's match after the offspinner pulled a hamstring while batting in the last group match against New Zealand at Mumbai.



Sangakkara said Muralitharan's recovery will be vital for his team and the offspinner was confident he would be fit.



"I have been carrying this hamstring injury for some time and it's not a problem," Muralitharan told the cricinfo website. "I am prepared to play the rest of the matches because I am retiring after the World Cup."



Muralitharan had to leave the field twice at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium last Friday before capturing 4-25 in Sri Lanka's huge 153-run win.



"Murali did a pretty OK job bowling off one leg and getting us all those wickets. He bowled beautifully," Sangakkara said. "Murali's done it before with an injury in Australia and he nearly won us a game there. Here it was something special, it shows how hungry he is to play and do well."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?