Woakes eyes big scalp

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Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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England will get a double shot at redemption when they meet Sri Lanka in a World Cup clash that both teams are targeting to kick-start so far unconvincing campaigns.

England have plenty of points to prove on their return to Wellington, where they will bid to bury the demons of their humiliation at the hands of New Zealand just a week ago.

Perhaps more significantly, however, they will aim to show they are capable of beating one of the heavy hitters at the tournament.

One-sided defeats to start the tournament against Australia and the Black Caps have left question marks over England’s capacity to match it with the best.

With only lower-ranked Bangladesh and Afghanistan left to come before the quarter-finals, should England reach that stage, seamer Chris Woakes knows it is an area that must be addressed against the Sri Lankans on Sunday.

“It’s important that we do show up against the big teams,” Woakes said.

“Sunday is a big game, having already lost two in the tournament already. It is important that we do beat the big sides.

“We want to get through to the quarter-finals and you’re going to have to beat big teams on the way.”

If the International Cricket Council’s rankings are to be believed Sri Lanka will offer an even tougher challenge than New Zealand.

Sri Lanka are ranked fourth on the standings – England sit sixth – and have injected at least some momentum into their tournament after they followed a closely-fought win over Afghanistan with a more convincing performance against Bangladesh in the past week.

“Sri Lanka are a good side so we know we have to be on our game,” Woakes added.

“It is a big opportunity for us, and we’re looking to win it. We’ll be looking to show how good we can be.”

Woakes sees no reason to fear a return to the Cake Tin where England have lost all three of their previous one-day internationals and never made more than 130.

Those three matches were, however, all against New Zealand although Sri Lanka did beat the Black Caps at the venue at the end of their recent one-day international series last month.

“We have a good opportunity to turn things around,” Woakes said.

“The last time we were there it didn’t exactly go to plan. It’s hard to read too much into that game – we were pretty poor. We’re past that now.

“We can put that behind us. It will be good to get back there and show people what we can do. It will be a good opportunity to put that completely behind us.”

Woakes is no stranger to conditions in the New Zealand capital following a short stint playing for the Wellington Firebirds a couple of winters ago.

The 25-year-old was also the only bowler to survive the carnage against the Black Caps, returning two for eight from three overs, and ended Brendon McCullum’s blistering innings when he bowled the Kiwi skipper with his first ball.

“I feel in good rhythm. Since arriving in Australia (and New Zealand) I’ve hit my straps pretty well and executed plans reasonably well,” he said.

“I’ve had an off day here or there, but you have those every now and then.

“In general I feel pretty good and in good confidence ahead of the Sri Lanka game. I feel like I’m in a good place.”

South Africa captain AB de Villiers produced one of the innings of the tournament on Friday as he thrashed an unbeaten 162 from 66 balls against West Indies.

Batsmen have dominated the early parts of the World Cup, highlighted by Chris Gayle’s double century against Zimbabwe, but De Villiers’ knock was arguably even more devastating as he catapulted his team to 408 for five – the second highest World Cup total ever.

“I saw a few of the highlights from last night’s game and it was an exceptional innings,” Woakes added.

“He’s a very, very good cricketer. It was an exceptional knock.

“I think the way he played last night was pretty rare. To get 160 off 60-odd balls is pretty special. When a guy is in that sort of form it’s pretty hard to stop.”

Asked if he thought there was any limit on what scores could be achieved in the 50-over game, Woakes added: “If it’s a belting wicket but who knows where the limit is – 400 is not going to happen very often.

“We’ve seen 300 now can become par and unless you get 340 it can still be chase-able.

“I don’t think we’ll see 400 scored very often but you are going to get them more often than we used to get them.”

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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