World Twenty20: Ominous for England but Eoin Morgan holds key

 

Kandy

On balance the omens are poor for England tonight. The last time they played Sri Lanka in a do-or-die match in a major limited-overs tournament it ended in abject defeat by 10 wickets and the resignation of their captain.

Whatever happens in their final Super Eight match of the World Twenty20 tonight, which is effectively a quarter-final, Stuart Broad's position is safe. Andrew Strauss merely decided it was time to go. But unless lessons from various quarters have been digested the rest of the outcome will be similar. First there is that quarter-final in the 2011 World Cup, when Sri Lanka prevailed by 10 wickets with both their opening batsman scoring centuries and England looked not only tired but out of their class.

And then there are matches earlier in this tournament, particularly when England performed so lamentably against the spin of India. It can be supposed that Sri Lanka will mount a similar attack of the slow men tonight.

England must address that little difficulty (which some might say would banish at least 50 years of history) while also rectifying the poor construction of their innings so far. The victory by six wickets against New Zealand on Saturday with seven balls left has clearly bucked them up.

Eoin Morgan, the team's most important batsman, agreed that spin and the approach to it could be the decisive factors. Play it well and England will have a sniff against a host team which is beginning to look the most assured here. "It is going to be crucial," said Morgan. "You play in a different way than you normally would do. To have guys who have had success here is crucial."

What has played with England's mind more than anything else as this competition has progressed in the last fortnight is the fact that the tactic that made them champions two years ago has not been effective this time.

In 2010 they came out blazing from the start and were rewarded. But this is different. They had a new opening partnership last time who knew no fear and Craig Kieswetter, the survivor so far from it, has struggled to adjust his game to different pitches. He may pay the price for this as Jonny Bairstow practised with the wicket-keeping gloves for 20 minutes at England's training session yesterday.

If Kieswetter is dropped Michael Lumb, who played in the 2010 but had seemed surplus to requirements now, would seem the likely replacement. The lack at Kevin Pietersen at No 3 despite, Luke Wright's manful successes, has been a clear short coming. Pietersen is one of the best Twenty20 players in the world, opponents know it and respond accordingly.

The inability against spin has been matched by a failure to deduce how the first six overs, which constitute the powerplay, should be played.

Morgan, who shows signs of coming into his most impressive limited-overs form, said: "When we've won games in the past and played well we've played really positive cricket and got along with things very well. Over here it's difficult.

"You have to get yourself in and maybe catch up with things from three overs to six. It's a bit of a conundrum but it's different from what we're used to. We haven't come to terms with it so far but we're working on it and trying to find a difference between firing and having a good solid start."

They had better find it tonight or the defence of their title will be over.

PALLEKELE DETAILS

England (probable): MJ Lumb, AD Hales, LJ Wright, EJG Morgan, JM Bairstow (wkt), JC Buttler, TT Bresnan, SCJ Broad (capt) GP Swann, DR Briggs, ST Finn,

Sri Lanka (probable): M Jayawardene (capt), T Dilshan, K Sangakkara (wkt), A Mathews, J Mendis, L Thirimanne, T Perera, N Kulasekera, L Malinga, R Herath, A Mendis

Weather: Chance of very light rain early on, 31 degrees with 21 per cent cloud cover. 15mph wind and 48 per cent humidity.

TV Times: Sky Sports 1 HD, 14.30-18.30, highlights at 01.00 Wednesday morning.

Odds: Sri Lanka 4/6, England 6/5

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones