Sri Lanka in focus ahead of their clash with England

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Sri Lanka’s players have had little to celebrate at the 2019 World Cup so far (Adam Davy/PA)

Sri Lanka have struggled to make a World Cup impact with poor form and bad weather frustrating them.

The 1996 world champions have picked up four points from five matches and need a strong finish to make the semi-finals.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the Lions ahead of their clash with England at Headingley.

Twin threats

Afghanistan v Sri Lanka – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Cardiff Wales Stadium
Sri Lanka paceman Lasith Malinga is playing at his fourth World Cup (David Davies/PA)

Sri Lanka will hope Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Pradeep can make in-roads into England’s much-vaunted batting unit. Malinga, the only bowler to take two World Cup hat-tricks, may be 35 now but he showed in the win over Afghanistan that his action can still deliver the toe-crushing yorkers on which he built his reputation. Pradeep also has an unconventional action but he has enjoyed success in British conditions, including a four-wicket haul against Afghanistan at Cardiff.

Tournament so far

Sri Lanka were thrashed by New Zealand in an embarrassing opener at Cardiff, losing by 10 wickets after being bowled out for 136. The game lasted only 45.3 overs. The Lions bounced back in the next game against Afghanistan, winning a rain-affected game by 34 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method. Bristol wash-outs followed against Bangladesh and Pakistan before Australia beat them comfortably by 87 runs at The Oval.

Batting blues

Sri Lanka v Australia – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Kia Oval
Milinda Siriwardana is bowled during Sri Lanka’s World Cup defeat to Australia at The Oval (Adam Davy/PA)

Adapting to the conditions has so far proved a challenge beyond Sri Lanka’s batsmen. Dimuth Karunaratne was stranded against New Zealand as the captain became only the second player in World Cup history to carry his bat through a completed innings. Sri Lanka got home against Afghanistan, but there was another batting collapse with 141 for one becoming 210 all out. Karunaratne’s 97 against Australia is their top score.

Star man

New Zealand v Sri Lanka – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Cardiff Wales Stadium
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been in fine form at the World Cup (Nigel French/PA)

Karunaratne has emerged on the ODI scene late in his career after impressing  in the Test arena. The 31-year-old was a controversial choice to take over the captaincy from Angelo Mathews just prior to the World Cup. But Karunaratne has been one of the few shining lights for Sri Lanka, following up his unbeaten 52 against New Zealand with scores of 30 and 97 in his next two innings.

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