England have a daunting task against Sri Lanka

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/s/strauss-eng.jpg' class='caption'> Still licking the wounds of their recent thrashing at the hands of Australia, a jittery England have a daunting task to stop a confident Sri Lanka.

Updated: September 24, 2009 13:24 IST
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Still licking the wounds of their recent thrashing at the hands of Australia, a jittery England have a daunting task to stop a confident Sri Lanka when they open their ICC Champions Trophy campaign at the New Wanderers here on Friday.

After the Ashes euphoria, England were drubbed 6-1 by Australia in the following one-day series and will have to quickly pull up their socks to make an impact in the tournament.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have already beaten hosts and favourite South Africa in their opening match and will be keen to keep the momentum going.

England must find a way to get rid of Tillakaratne Dilshan, who is in red hot form these days, early. If he gets his way along with equally explosive Sanatah Jayasuriya, England bowlers are in for a severe punishment.

Not only the batsmen but dealing with spin-twin of Ajantha Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan plus unorthodox Lasith Malinga is another stiff challenge awaiting Andrew Strauss and his men in tomorrow's clash.

Mendis has shown his form in the rain-marred match against South Africa when he scalped three wickets.

Strauss himself admitted that tackling Mendis would be a task for his players.

"We have not played Mendis and some of their seam bowlers before. You can look at footage of him but it is only in the middle that you can be really sure of how he bowls and what his variations are", he said.

"It requires us to think pretty quick on our feet. There are some fundamentals you have to keep in mind against someone like him, but it is a new challenge. We have played against Murali and Malinga, but Mendis is new," Strauss said.

There will be onerous responsibility on Strauss to lead from the front as the side has neither Kevin Pietresen nor Andrew Flintoff.

Ravi Bopara, Paul Collingwood, Luke Wright and stumper Matt Prior too have to make sure that their bats do some talking as Sri Lanka have some very exciting batsmen in their ranks, capable of demolishing any total.

If Sri Lanka bat first, then James Anderson and Graham Onions have to give England a good start.

Greame Swann did an excellent job in the last ODI against Australia by taking five wickets and his role in the middle overs will be crucial.

Teams (from)

England: Andrew Strauss (C), Ravi Bopara, Luke Wright, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Joe Denly, Eoin Morgan, Graham Onions, Matt Prior, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Adil Rashid, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Graeme Swann.

Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (C), Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedara, Angelo Mathews, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dhammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Thilina Kandamby.

Match starts at 6 pm IST.

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