England all-rounder Ravi Bopara says Thursday’s fixture against Sri Lanka is a ‘must-win’ game if they are to qualify for the World Twenty20 semi-finals.
After controversially losing their opening fixture of the World Cup against New Zealand by the Duckworth Lewis method on Saturday it is vital England get back to winning ways with only two teams from the group qualifying for the knockout stage which starts next Thursday.
Sri Lanka have won two games so far, including destroying the Netherlands after reaching their target of just 40 in five overs after they humiliated their opposition, bowling them out for the lowest ever score in international T20 cricket.
Their other victory came against South Africa to underline their stature in the shortest form of the game. However, England will feel unfortunate to have lost their opening match of the tournament after setting an impressive 172-6 in Chittagong.
The game was then called off after just 32 balls of New Zealand’s innings with the Kiwis on 52-1 after Jade Dernbach had Martin Guptill caught by Chris Jordan. That meant Brendon McCullum’s men were handed the victory by nine runs due to the stormy weather in Bangladesh.
Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler and Bopara all raced past 20 at more than a run a ball but as the latter admitted to Sky Sports, scoring at a quicker rate is something he and his teammates are focusing on.
"Obviously you have to hit sixes in T20 cricket to push the run rates up. I can only speak for myself when I'm practising, I do need to practice hitting the ball over the ropes," Bopara admitted.
"I'm going to face roughly between 10-20 balls I think, at most, batting at number six so really after my third or fourth ball I need to be ready to hit a six so I'm going in and practising like that.
"I have been lying in my bed at times and thought why don't I just hit the first ball for six because more often than not the bowler just wants to land it on a length and get a dot, so it's probably the best ball to hit out the park, so I have thought about it."
The game gets under way at 1.30pm GMT on Thursday with the final group games following shortly afterwards. Ashley Giles’ men play South Africa on Saturday before coming up against Netherlands on Monday and despite there being a small chance of losing against Sri Lanka and still qualifying, Bopara says losing is not an option.
"It is a must-win game for us, we don't know about any other mathematical sides of it, we have to win.
"Winning against Sri Lanka would be a big thing for us, a big confidence boost and that's the way we're looking at it."
"Obviously I didn't expect them (Holland) to be bowled out for 39, but they are tough customers especially if you haven't played against them and I don't think the Netherlands have played much against Sri Lanka.
"But we've seen a lot of their cricketers, we've played against Malinga quite a bit and Mendis, and most of them actually, so we'll be a little bit more prepared.
“There is a lot of dew out there (on the field) but we have prepared for that. We’ve been bowling with wet balls, fielding with wet balls, batting against wet balls so hopefully we will be prepared for that.”