England target semi-final berth | PunterPolls Prediction
England were too rigid, too slow and too one-dimensional at Edgbaston - probably why they thumped Australia by 48 runs. The familiar concerns over England's shortcomings were rolled out at lunch on Saturday, only to be wheeled away at the close. England have a knack for getting it right on the night, particularly in ODIs at home, and should they get the job done against Sri Lanka, they will be in the semi-finals.
The scaremongering will emerge again over England's batting - how will they survive Lasith Malinga's toe-crushers? How will they find a way to score from Rangana Herath, who put England in a spin last March? They've never seen Sachithra Senanayake before. Their blasters with the bat are no good against slow bowling. You can see it is quite easy to descend into debilitating nervousness about the England line up.
But England have their plans, England know their game and, more often than not, have been able to put in a performance with the bat. Anyone who left for the bar at Edgbaston after 40 overs of the first innings on Saturday would have been after a stiff measure to numb the pain of the previous 20 overs. By the interval, a response to England's total of 269 would have included pleasant surprise and bewilderment at how they got there after their middle order was so quickly shot down.
England found a way. Ravi Bopara played a great hand and his performances at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston were just what he was picked for: a handy few late-order runs and a tricky spell of slippery overs. Bopara balances England quite nicely and looking at the wickets from the opening Champions Trophy matches, pace off the ball is a good weapon.
Sri Lanka needed more of it against New Zealand. Angelo Mathews admitted his selection was wrong in Cardiff. A second spinner would have forced New Zealand into doing more than drop-and-run and use the pace of the quicker men to nudge their way to the target. More of a threat then Tillakaratne Dilshan was needed. It was a bizarre oversight; especially considering New Zealand played two spinners.
They were left relying on Malinga and even his best ideally needs more than 139 to work with. Sri Lanka's dealing with the new balls - which haven't done as much as might have been expected - and more pertinently, reverse swing, could decide the match.
Sri Lankan were struggling with the bat but then they have done superb bowling and did get quite close to won the match against the New Zealand. But England batsmen are not like New Zealanders, they are more experienced and better gel with their home conditions. England worry is to handle the Sri Lankan spin attack and Sri Lankan worry is their own batting line-up.
Our experts believe that England does have better chances to win today's game as they are very much comfortable with the home conditions and have better pace attack.
RESULT ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 8th Match, Group A - England v Sri Lanka, 13 June
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