LEEDS: Sri Lanka are hanging in around the middle of the table as of now, but won’t be there for long unless they rack up some wins, starting with the match against England on Friday.
This is the ultimate David v Goliath face-off at this ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. England are the world’s top-ranked ODI side. They are the strongest contenders to lift the trophy and have already taken firm steps towards making the final four.
Sri Lanka are a struggling one-day side. They have a lone win from five matches. But two of those produced no result, giving them a point from each, as a result of which they are still hanging in there, around the mid-table.
England will again be without Jason Roy for this clash as he continues to recover from the hamstring tear he suffered against West Indies. But England have such depth in resources, and have so much going right for them that they can look past the Roy injury and still come out and dominate. Doing so could give them yet another win, and a win should take them one step closer to the semi-finals.
As for Sri Lanka, they face an uphill battle, but have enough games left to try and make something out of this campaign. Dimuth Karunaratne, their captain, has excelled with the bat so far, but can he inspire the rest of the team with those performances? Whatever may be needed to make that happen, though, needs to come soon.
England’s Mr. Consistent, Joe Root is second on the tournament run charts, with 367 runs that include two centuries and two fifties in five innings. Root is playing his part to perfection: by holding the innings together and building it, he’s letting the rest of England’s fearsome line-up come out and express themselves without inhibitions. That spells ominous signs for all the other teams.
What Root is doing for England, Karunaratne Dimuth is doing for Sri Lanka as their captain, although of a lesser magnitude. Karunaratne is leading by example, and his form is even more impressive, considering that before this tournament, he had played just one ODI in the last four years.
Leeds should wake up to a sunny day with some clouds hanging overhead, but chances of rain are extremely minimal. There should also be a moderate breeze. This will be Headingley’s CWC19 debut, but in the fifth and final ODI of the England-Pakistan series that preceded this tournament, the ground had a 350-plus total that England defended successfully to win by 54 runs.