Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena believes Sri Lanka are facing an “uphill struggle” to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup after their 87-run defeat to Australia but still believes it’s possible for Dimuth Karunaratne’s men to progress beyond the round-robin stage.
“It’s going to be an uphill struggle for Sri Lanka to reach the semi-finals […] but it is still possible,” Jayawardena wrote in a column for the ICC. “It was a disappointing defeat because they had a great opportunity to get two points but let it slip away.”
Watch highlights: Sri Lanka vs Australia, ICC Cricket World Cup, 2019
“Now they need at least two more wins to be in consideration for the top four and it’s four tough teams left – England, South Africa, West Indies and India,” Jayawardena added. “It’s England next and for that match, you have to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s book – they played their natural game against England and deservedly won.
“They attacked the England spinners, especially in the middle overs, and I thought Mohammad Hafeez batted brilliantly in that period. Sri Lanka have to take those chances, put those England bowlers under pressure and kick on when they can.
“What you’ve seen to win games at this ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup is that either posting a score above 300 or restricting the opposition to less than 270. It’s all about how Sri Lanka can achieve that. Pakistan had the bowling attack, had the variation and pace to challenge the England batting line-up.
“I don’t think Sri Lanka have the pace but the variety is there and I think they have to use a spinner in their line-up to create those opportunities in the middle overs. Without the middle order firing, it will be tough to post that total above the 300-mark but they are definitely capable of beating England, although it won’t be easy.”
Sri Lanka’s match against England takes place on June 21 in Leeds.
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