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Cricket World Cup - England face tough Sri Lanka test

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarter-final: Sri Lanka v England
Venue: Colombo Date: Saturday, 26 March (0900 GMT)
Coverage: Highlights on BBC Two (see listings), Red Button & online at 2200 GMT (UK only); live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online); text commentary online and mobiles; live on Sky Sports

England v Sri Lanka, 2007 World Cup
England lost a World Cup thriller against Sri Lanka in 2007

England will face a tough assignment against 1996 winners Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Colombo on Saturday.

Andrew Strauss's side finished third in Group B after India defeated West Indies in Chennai on Sunday, while Sri Lanka were runners-up in Group A.

India will take on holders Australia in Ahmedabad on Thursday while West Indies will play Pakistan on Wednesday.

South Africa will face New Zealand on Friday for a place in the last four.

Both sides, like England, have never won the trophy.

If England get through, they will remain in Colombo to face either South Africa or New Zealand in the semi-finals on 29 March.

England have an excellent World Cup record against Sri Lanka, winning six of the eight previous matches between the two sides - but were beaten by two runs in a Super Eights encounter in the Caribbean in 2007.

England must raise their game - Vaughan

But batsman Ian Bell believes England's unpredictability means they are a side none of their rivals will want to face in the knockout stages.

England put in a late burst to take four wickets for three runs in their must-win game against the West Indies in Chennai on Thursday to stay in the tournament.

"In the last 12-18 months, when we've had matches we've got to win we've come out well," said Bell.

"I'm sure there are a lot of teams around that don't really want to play England - because they don't quite know what they're going to get at the minute.

"We're pretty excited about playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. They are a big challenge. But we've had success there in the recent past and we hope we can do it again.

"If we win all three matches, we'll be able to look back on one of the best winters of all time. Three games, and we can win a World Cup.

"It's been pretty incredible, tiring and a little bit frustrating that we haven't quite put it all together. We've played six games here and still haven't got it all right at the same time."

Should England win, Saturday's match will be the last of Muttiah Muralitharan's international career - and Bell is well aware of the threat still posed by the record-breaking off-spinner.

"We're going to have to play Murali well," he added. "But we have Eoin Morgan back - a quality player of spin in the middle order - which will help us."

Bell, who is currently batting at number four, has hit two fifties at the tournament but there are many who feel that he should be opening the batting.

"One-day cricket is a great place to go up at the top of the order, with the field up. It's a good place to go out and bat, so I'd be really desperate to do that," he admitted.

"But if I had to stay at four and keep to my role for the team, I'm happy to do that as well."

"I feel in great touch. But it's been hard work scrapping for runs coming in in the middle when it's been turning a lot."

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see also
My mate Murali
20 Mar 11 |  Sri Lanka
India win sets up Aussie showdown
20 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Flower upbeat on England chances
19 Mar 11 |  England
SA victory puts England through
19 Mar 11 |  Cricket
England call up bowler Dernbach
18 Mar 11 |  England
Shahzad to miss rest of World Cup
17 Mar 11 |  England
Strauss proud of England spirit
17 Mar 11 |  England
England win keeps Cup hopes alive
17 Mar 11 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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