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Stuart Dalgleish 25th Mar 2011 - 22:13

Sri Lanka are certainly not bankers

Sri Lanka v England - 09:00 live on Sky Sports 2

Here we go again then with England (13/8) as the Three Lions look to entertain the masses as they take on co-hosts Sri Lanka (1/2).

Andrew Strauss (3/1 top Eng bat) will have been fairly pleased to see New Zealand beat South Africa, as it's given his team arguably an 'easier' path through to the final should they win this game.

I don't think many saw that coming, but fair play to Daniel Vettori and his players, they've quietly gone about their business this past month or so and are now just a game away from the final.

The Kiwis can sit back and enjoy this game, as I'm sure it will be another tense and entertaining affair.

I must be sounding like a broken record by now, but you're guaranteed drama with England at this World Cup, they're not making things easy for themselves and have really ridden their luck so far.

Their last game against the West Indies was further proof of this; in the first innings they were going along nicely, then collapsed, then got it back together again to post a reasonable total, then they were blitzed by Chris Gayle and looked out of it before getting well on top only to get frustrated once more by tail-enders and then finally getting four quick wickets to win the game; it was thrilling stuff and I've just exhausted myself writing about it again!

You know that England won't give up though, and that's why Sri Lanka will really have to be at their best if they're to keep the home interest alive.

The co-hosts will also be aware of England's record againsy the better teams; they tied with India, and beat South Africa, they were also the only team in the quarter-finals to have not lost against the sides left in, the West Indies being the other team they defeated.

Whether or not England can raise their game again remains to be seen, the atmosphere in camp will undoubtedly be a little sombre too following the sad news of Michael Yardy retrurning home with depression.

Yardy has been replaced by Adil Rashid, but the Yorkshire ace is still to arrive in Sri Lanka so won't be involved, Jade Dernbach (5/1 top England bowler) is another player coming into the squad to replace Ajmal Shahzad but I wouldn't imagine he'll play, James Anderson (7/2) is likely to come back into the fold despite some poor performances so far.

Pressure will certainly be on Jimmy to get back into the groove with all the players leaving England's bowling attack, he and Graeme Swann (9/4) could carry England's hopes on their shoulders.

Swann will want to put on a big show infront of one of the all-time great spin bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan (3/1 top SL bowler), the legendary Murali has 11 wickets from six games and could well be playing in his last international match after announcing his intentions to retire from ODIs after the tournament.

It would be fitting for his international swansong to be on this ground, as that was where it all started, at the R Premadasa Stadium in 1992 against Australia, of course he would prefer it to end at the Wankhede Stadium for the final, and preferably with another winners medal to add to his 1996 success.

I think Murali will have the chance to make that dream come true, England have been susceptible to spin throughout the tournament and Muttiah, Ajantha Mendis (9/2 top SL bowler) and Tillakarantne Dilshan (10/1) will certainly keep the batsmen in check, although Dilshan is only a part-time bowler.

Of course, it's not just the spinners that will cause England problems, Lasith Malinga (9/4) has been on great form this World Cup and he also has a fine record against England, having taken 33 wickets at a good economy rate over the years.

If the 'Slinga' can get at England's top order early doors then it will be game over, should Strauss, Matt Prior (5/1 top Eng bat) and Jonathan Trott (10/3) get some runs on the board it will make it an interesting battle.

You have to think though that anything under 250 will be dealt with by Sri Lanka so some big scores are crucial, Luke Wright (16/1) got England out of trouble last time with a decent total and it made all the difference.

With the likes of Kumar Sangakkara (10/3 top SL bat), Upal Tharanga (4/1) and Dilshan (7/2) all on fire England can't afford to go slowly in their batting, big players like these won't miss out on an opportunity to get their team in to the semis.

Again, it promises to be a cracking game, let's hope that England can give us at least one more after this one though.



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