In the FIFA soccer World Cup, there are varying degrees of prestige for teams that exit the tournament. Teams can face the humiliation of getting eliminated in the group stage, the round of 32, or the round of 16. Conversely, they can earn the distinction of being a respected quarterfinalist, a deserving semifinalist, or a well-deserved finalist.
In contrast, the Cricket World Cup is a competition that bring either great success or disappointment. The difference between finishing fourth or fifth determines whether a team progresses to the semifinals or gets knocked out in the group stage. On Thursday, Sri Lanka and England will compete at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium with the sole objective of keeping their hopes alive for reaching the semifinals.
Both Sri Lanka and England have lost three out of their four matches so far, placing them in the seventh and eighth positions, respectively, among the ten teams in the World Cup. Given the fact that they are yet to face the current leader, India, neither team can afford to lose.
England needs to bounce back from a devastating 229-run defeat by South Africa. Their batting has not performed well, with captain Jos Buttler scoring less than 100 runs in four games, and their bowling has been dominated by South Africa, New Zealand, and Afghanistan. England may appear to have room for improvement, but they should not underestimate Sri Lanka.
The island nation has won all four of their World Cup matches against England since the year 2000. While a five-wicket victory over the Netherlands last week may not be ideal preparation for Sri Lanka, it does help erase memories of their three previous humiliating defeats.
The last time England played ODIs at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in 2011, they lost a match despite scoring 327 runs against Ireland, and they tied a match after scoring 338 runs. Sri Lanka has conceded totals of 428 and 345 runs in this World Cup. Another high-scoring match seems likely, and England is eager to come out on top this time.
– N Sudarshan
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