Cricket World Cup Preview – England v Sri Lanka

England’s extraordinary assault on the Afghanistan bowling had the records tumbling at Old Trafford on Tuesday with captain Eoin Morgan setting a world record for the number of sixes in an ODI (17) innings as part of his 71-ball 148.

Rashid Khan also joined the history books. An IPL legend and widely regarded as one of the best spinners in the world he bowled 9 wicketless overs for 110 runs conceding no fewer than 11 sixes. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow set the game up, but Morgan’s onslaught was something to behold.

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood again bowled with pace and aggression in Manchester and this England side will be full of confidence when they meet Sri Lanka at Headingly on Friday. Sri Lanka chased down West Indies 321 with ease at Taunton on Monday, but they will find this England attack a different kettle of fish altogether.

Ahead of the game between South Africa and New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday it does look as if the semi-finalists will be hosts England, India, Australia and the Black Caps of New Zealand. The latter have gone under the radar so far although we will know more about their potential after their impending group games against England and Australia.

Sri Lanka were brushed aside by Australia at the Oval in their last game when Baggy Green skipper Aaron Finch rolled back the years and played an innings of rare quality. Sri Lanka started their chase well, but their innings petered out disappointingly. They must still be scratching their heads as to how and why they allowed part-time off-spinner Glen Maxwell to bowl his 10 overs for 46 in pursuit of 334.

I hope to see another cameo from Sri Lankan keeper Kusal Perera at the top of the Sri Lankan innings, but I doubt if Archer, Wood or Chris Woakes will be pitching much in his half and it will be interesting to see his tactics against this potent English attack.

I felt Sri Lanka would be challenging for a place in the top 4 at the start of the tournament but they have lost two and had two rained-off in their five games to date. They are 7/1 with BetVictor to cause a shock against the hosts who are 1/12 to make it five wins out of six. England still have India, Australia and New Zealand to play in the round-robin section of the tournament. Are England flat track bullies or the real deal? We’ll soon find out although they do look as if they have all bases covered.

Sri Lanka were rushed out for 136 against New Zealand in their first game and have complained that they have played exclusively on green seeming wickets in this World Cup. You would be surprised if there wasn’t a bit in the surface for the English pace attack in Leeds. Angelo Mathews is too good a player to be out of form for too long and I feel he may well have time to play a long innings against England coming in at number five.

Not for the first time James Vince threw away the prospect of a big score when out for a fluent 26 against Afghanistan on Tuesday. With Jason Roy likely to be fit for the next England game against Australia on Tuesday this is Vince’s last chance to give the selectors a welcome headache. At 5/1 with BetVictor he is too big a price for a quality opening batsman to be top scorer in what looks sure to be another fluent England success.

Charlie’s Recommendations:

James Vince top England runscorer at 5/1

Angelo Mathews top Sri Lankan runscorer at 4/1      

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