Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: Morgan to sink Sri Lanka

By David Clough

England will play Sri Lanka in Colombo in next weekend's last World Cup quarter-final.

Andrew Strauss' team were kept waiting until late evening, tracking events on television from their Delhi hotel, before tournament favourites India completed their anticipated victory over the West Indies in Chennai to confirm where and when England will begin their campaign in the knockout stages.

Had the Windies upset the odds, England would instead be on their way to Dhaka today to face Group A winners Pakistan.

India prevailed by 80 runs and England's resultant third position in Group B means they will have plentiful time to prepare for their meeting with Sri Lanka on their home patch at the Premadasa Stadium on Saturday.

England are encouraged by their most recent 50-over experiences in Sri Lanka, having beaten their hosts 3-2 in October 2007. Ian Bell, involved in that series which featured one victory and one defeat for England under the lights in Colombo, said: “We're pretty excited about playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.

“Sri Lanka's a big challenge, but we've had success there in the recent past and we hope we can do it again.”

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

“We'll have to play Murali well, but we have Eoin Morgan back — a quality player of spin in the middle order,” said Bell.

RESULTS: ICC World Cup - Group A Zimbabwe 308-6 (C R Ervine 66, V Sibanda 61, T Taibu 53) v Kenya 147 Zimbabwe beat Kenya by 161 runs.

ICC World Cup - Group B India 268 (Yuvraj Singh 113, V Kohli 59, R Rampaul 5-51) v West Indies 188 (D S Smith 81) India beat West Indies by 80 runs

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In the end, Ireland's disappointing opening game defeat to Bangladesh did not matter. It was the West Indies game in Chandigarh which cost them a place in the quarter-finals.

Despite their defeat in Dhaka, they finished with a superior run rate to Bangladesh, but because the Windies, or rather Kieron Pollard, beat Ireland they finished on six points, two ahead of William Porterfield's side.

Ironically, if Ireland had won the game — and remember, Pollard was dropped on 19 — they would have been travelling back to Dhaka today for a quarter-final game against Pakistan, the team they famously beat on St Patrick's Day at the last World Cup in 2007, but we will never know if history would have repeated itself.

Instead, most of the Ireland squad return to Dublin at lunch time where they can expect a big welcome home and an all-comers party has been organised in the Russell Court Hotel tonight at 8pm. Victory over England deserves another celebration.

Andrew White, Andre Botha, who spent most of last week in a Kolkata hospital, Nigel Jones and team manager Roy Torrens fly into Belfast for what is likely to be a more subdued reception.

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