England ladies start favourites against Sri Lanka in World Cup

The two teams have met on eight occasions, including one washed out match, and England have come out trumps seven times, making them clear front-runners.

Updated: January 31, 2013 17:33 IST
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Mumbai: Firm favourites for the title, defending champions England have an easy opener to deal with when they take on tournament minnows Sri Lanka in a Group A match of the Women's Cricket World Cup in Mumbai on Friday.

The three-time winners of the tournament, since its inception in 1973, and the World T20 runners-up are led by Charlotte Edwards, who is set to appear in her fifth successive Cup.

She led England to a four-wicket victory over Australia in the 2009 tournament final at Sydney.

England have a 100 per cent record against their rivals, considered outsiders in the race to the Super Six stage.

The two teams have met on eight occasions, including one washed out match, and England have come out trumps seven times, making them clear front-runners.

The England squad features familiar faces. There are eight players from the original winning squad of 2009 including the in-form ICC Women's Twenty20 Player of the Year Sarah Taylor, who will once again lead the side's batting line-up.

Apart from Edwards, the most capped woman's player in ODIs with 160 appearances including 86 as captain, England have a top wicket-keeper batter in Sarah Taylor.

Pacer Katherine Brunt, the number one ODI bowler in ICC Women's ODI Player Rankings with 76 scalps to her name, along with the talented slow left-armer Holly Colvin will be top bowlers for England.

They also have three other spinners in the squad - Danielle Hazel, Laura Marsh and Danni Wyatt.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are looked upon as the team most likely to make an exit at the preliminary stage from this group that also has hosts India and the West Indies.

Captained by middle-order batter and off-spinner Sashikala Siriwardene, Sri Lanka have a mountain to climb against England - winners in 1973, 1993 and 2009 and runners-up in 1978, 1981 and 1988.

Lanka, who look upon former captain and all rounder Chamani Seneviratna to play a key role, had finished eighth in the last edition. They had ended up sixth in 2000, their best finish, and made the quarters three years earlier.

They won the right to compete in the tournament by finishing in the top four of the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2011.

Edwards conceded that England did not have details about their rivals' strengths and weaknesses.

"We don't know a huge amount about the Sri Lankans. We last played them in 2010 and saw a bit of them in the T20 World Cup," she said.

But the England skipper also said it won't be a cakewalk for her team considering that the women from the Emerald Island had beaten South Africa in the warm-up game here.

"They beat South Africa the other day and we are expecting a tough side especially since they know the conditions well," she said.

Edwards said her team has prepared well for the tournament.

"It's quite warm here, we are ready to play now. We had a good time in Pune last week (training camp) and two good warm up games. We played at CCI the other day and it was a fantastic wicket. The girls are ready to go."

Edwards also said that there was no pressure on her team as the defending champions and felt it was an open event with all the teams capable of lifting the coveted title.

"There is no pressure. We know what we have to do, come out and win the World Cup. It's a challenge to play in India since all the teams have a chance to win the cup."

Sri Lanka captain Shashikala Siriwardene said though England are the stronger outfit on paper, her team has the advantage of playing in Indian conditions.

"It's a big advantage for us to play in India. We are here to win the World Cup. We have not played many games except against India. We will try out best and this World Cup could be the turning point for women's cricket in Sri Lanka," she said.

Shashikala singled out four players as having been very impressive after coming here.

"Opener Chamara Atapaththu, left arm spinner Sherina Ravikumar and all rounders Eshani Lokusooriya and Sripali Weerakkody have been impressive," she said.

After the game against England, Lanka will meet the West Indies at the MIG Club on February 3 and then take on hosts India at the Brabourne Stadium on February 6 in their concluding Group A engagement.

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