Sri Lanka look to exploit England’s ‘minor’ batting flaws

CWC19 – Reporting from Headingley, England

2020

Sri Lanka have arrived in Headingley for their sixth game in the ICC Cricket World Cup, a venue where they have won their last two ODI games. Sri Lanka is also the last team to beat England at Headingley in 2011. The pre-tournament favourites and hosts, England have won all their last six ODI games at the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

After five matches, England have already racked up four 300+ scores, including the highest in the tournament so far – 397/6 against Afghanistan on Tuesday in Manchester. They could not reach 300 only once, that too due to the target being 213 against West Indies.

Dismantling the strong England batting juggernaut will take a special effort from the Sri Lankan bowlers. Sri Lanka is expected to go in with the same bowling attack used against Australia last Saturday.

Ahead of the match on Friday, Sri Lanka’s Bowling Coach Rumesh Ratnayake was optimistic that they have identified the weak points in the strong English batting lineup and are looking forward to exploiting them.

“We know that they have a strong batting line up and they keep attacking. Their game plan is like that of West Indies of the past, “ Ratnayake said.

“It doesn’t mean that they don’t have flaws. We have watched them and we know what their weak areas are and it is a matter of exploiting those areas of vulnerabilities. There aren’t much of that but whatever they have, we have to exploit that.”

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Sri Lanka will once again rely on their old war-horse Lasith Malinga to do the damage with the ball. But, there are massive question marks over his personal trips to Sri Lanka in between games.

He flew back to Sri Lanka for his mother-in-law’s funeral after the washout against Bangladesh on the 11th of June and got back in the eleventh hour before the Australia match on the 14th of June. Soon after the Australia clash on the 15th, Malinga went back to Sri Lanka for his mother-in-law’s seventh-day almsgiving. But, he rejoined the team yesterday on the 17th (yesterday).

Sri Lanka trained outdoors on Tuesday but due to the dampness in the outfield, the Islanders had to cancel their training on Wednesday (18th).

“He [Malinga] was here and was going to train today (Wednesday). The weather wasn’t good for him to train. He flew in yesterday and our management didn’t want him to bowl immediately,” 55-year old former Sri Lanka fast bowler said on his most experienced bowler’s jet-lag. “He will bowl tomorrow and he has done well in the tournament. A few overs tomorrow will help him to get into his strides.”

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Sri Lanka bowled well in patches during the Australia game, but saw the defending champions accumulating 334 from their 50 overs. They managed some damage control in the death, allowing only 22 runs from overs 46-49. But, it was too much for the Sri Lankans to chase down despite a stellar 115-run opening stand. Sri Lanka slumped from 205 for 3 to 247 all out, failing to bat out their 50 overs yet again.

However, Ratnayake believes that Sri Lanka has plenty of room to improve in terms of bowling and hope the batting unit would come good against the varied England attack.

“Yes, the bowlers have done well. But, my expectations are much more from them, “ He further stated.

“The batsmen we have discussed a lot. We are aware that we need to be more consistent and believe in ourselves. We have the potential and batsmen are aware of that. Nobody wants to get out cheaply. That’s in our mind. Every match we go in we hope it will work well.”

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