Crunchtime for Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy

While England's preparations are being overshadowed by Warner bar incident, Sri Lanka must recover from Kiwi defeat.

    Crunchtime for Sri Lanka in Champions Trophy
    Sangakkara's defiant 68-runs saved Sri Lanka some face against New Zealand [Reuters]

    Sri Lanka will look for a vastly improved batting performance against hosts England on Thursday as they try to stay afloat in the Champions Trophy.

    Angelo Mathews' team were shot out for 138 against New Zealand in Cardiff on Sunday, and only a hostile four-wicket spell from sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga helped them save face in the narrow one-wicket defeat.

    The equation is simple. We have got two games and we have to win both to stay alive in the tournament

    Angelo Mathews, Sri Lankan captain

    Sri Lanka, World Cup finalists in 2007 and 2011, must now defeat both England and Australia in day-night matches at the Oval to keep their semi-final hopes alive from group A.

    "I think the whole batting unit has to take responsibility," Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews said on Wednesday.

    "We can't really expect the bowlers to do the job for us everytime."

    Mathews said the morale was high despite the opening setback and added he expected his team to come back strongly in the next two matches.

    "Defending 138, the guys responded to that brilliantly," he said.

    "The equation is simple. We have got two games and we have to win both to stay alive in the tournament.

    "We have to stay positive and take England on. We should not put too much pressure on ourselves. We have to go out there, enjoy the game and do the best we can. The result will take care of itself."

    'Physical attack'

    Mathews said England had one of the best seam attacks in the game and admitted the first task for his team was to play out the full 50 overs.

    Sri Lanka lasted just 37.5 overs against New Zealand, mainly due to Kumar Sangakkara's defiant 68 as seven batsmen failed to reach double figures on a slow Cardiff pitch.

    England, meanwhile, bounced back from a 2-1 one-day series loss against New Zealand ahead of the tournament to brush aside old foes Australia by 48 runs in their first match.

    Alastair Cook's home team go into the match with their preparations overshadowed by an incident at a bar in Birmingham between Australia's David Warner and young England player Joe Root over the weekend.

    Australia stood down Warner for Wednesday's match against New Zealand for what the England and Wales Cricket Board said was an 'unprovoked physical attack on a member of the England team.'

    Cook, who confirmed that the England player involved was 22-year-old Root, insisted the team wanted to get over the incident to concentrate on what was an important game for the hosts.

    "We are clearly disappointed that the incident happened, but after investigating it from our side, we don't believe we have done anything wrong," said Cook.

    "Joe just wants to get the matter buried and play cricket. He's an excellent young man. It's unfortunate this has happened, but he wants to put it behind him."

    Cook said Malinga would be the danger man for his side, mainly because of his unusual bowling action.

    "Malinga is a mighty fine bowler," the England captain said.

    "He has got a very different technique and bowling action. Some of the lads have faced him before.

    "So if we can play him well as a batting unit, it will really put Sri Lanka under pressure."



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