England seek upturn in fortunes at Cricket World Cup

England Cricket Crest

If England are to qualify for the quarter-finals of the cricket World Cup then they need to start winning. And soon.

Granted, a win tonight over Sri Lanka is not imperative - they can still qualify if they go on to beat Afghanistan and Bangladesh - but it is vital for the confidence of a side that looked like they might be finding their feet during the tri-series in Australia.

They began this tournament with maulings at the hands of Australia and New Zealand - it wasn't the losses themselves, against two of the tournament favourites, that were so disappointing but the nature of the defeats - and they didn't exactly dominate Scotland in the manner that they would have hoped after Moeen Ali had given them a dream start.

Their recent performances at the venue for tonight's game are also not exactly inspiring. Wellington's Westpac Stadium was scene of the blitz by New Zealand earlier in the tournament and, before that, their totals at the ground were 130 in 2008 and 89 in 2002. Most of the players on duty tonight will, however, not have been present for those thrashings.

The pressure on the team has hardly let up since the win over Scotland, with a sprinkling of fans unhappy that some of the players have been spotted in bars around Wellington over the past few days. There has also been criticism of captain Eoin Morgan's decision not to sing the national anthem before the games.

Added to all of this, is the fact that they face a Sri Lankan side that is seemingly on the up. They were in a similar position to England after their first game - a hammering at the hands of hosts New Zealand - and hardly improved things with a stuttering showing against a plucky Afghanistan. However, their most recent performance was one of utter domination over Bangladesh and they are slowly beginning to find form at the right time. Lasith Malinga looks to be getting better with every match on his return from injury, while their top three of Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are close to prime form.

England, though, will reckon to have conditions on their side in Wellington. Swing has been a welcome feature of this year's World Cup and they will hope to utilise it better than their Sri Lankan counterparts. In James Anderson they still have one of the best swing bowlers in the world to open with the new ball, while Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn are more than handy back-up.

The batting will be the main area of focus in team selection, with Gary Ballance the man whose place is most under threat. Alex Hales is waiting in the wings, while Ravi Bopara is itching for a recall. The conditions expected may favour Ballance, however. Out of the three, he is probably the man with the best technique for dealing with the moving ball.