It’s a fine time to be a fan of English sport. The rugby team enjoyed Six Nations Grand Slam success, Roy Hodgson’s footballers put in a confidence-building win over Germany and there’s a semi-final at the World T20 to look forward to, but only just.
What looked like a stroll to victory for Eoin Morgan’s side against Sri Lanka – when the defending champions were reduced to 15-4 chasing England’s 171 – almost became an agonising loss as Angelo Mathews played a defiant knock.
Through four games during the Super 10 group stage, the Three Lions are yet to put in a complete performance. With the semi-finals on the horizon, time is running out to hit peak form.
It can be argued that winning without playing your best isn’t such a bad thing during a tournament, but with New Zealand – England’s most likely last-four opponents – already operating in a high gear, progression to the final is going to be a tough task.
If it hasn’t been a batting hiccup – like the one that started the innings against Afghanistan – then the pace attack is proving inconsistent or the spinners are being dismantled.
Chris Gayle feasted on the seamers’ wayward tendencies in the opening group match and Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid bowled a combined two dot balls in four overs against the Sri Lankans.
Now faced with knockout cricket, the time for England to put all areas of their game together is now.
Kane Williamson’s Kiwis are formidable opposition having gone through their own Super 10 phase unbeaten, and that’s without revered swing-bowling pair Trent Boult and Tim Southee getting a game.
If England are to reach the World Cup final, then they’ll need to find their best performance of the tournament so far.
In the other semi-final, West Indies are waiting to discover their opponents, with the winner of India and Australia progressing to face the 2012 champions.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.