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England face tough Sri Lanka test

England begin a crucial period in their World Cup campaign with a tough Super 8 match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

It will be followed by a showdown with Australia on Sunday and England need to win at least one of the games to boost their hopes of a semi-final place.

Andrew Flintoff is expected to be fit to face Sri Lanka despite twisting an ankle during the win over Ireland.

The only selection dilemma concerns whether to play Ed Joyce or Andrew Strauss at the top of the order.

Joyce was out cheaply against Ireland and captain Michael Vaughan said: "Strauss has got a great chance - he's playing well in the nets."

But he then seemed to suggest Joyce might be retained by adding: "We've also played against three teams [Canada, Kenya and Ireland] we've been expected to beat. Sometimes players, without thinking about it, do become a bit complacent, playing against those type of teams.

"Tomorrow there's no chance of complacency because you know you're up against a very good team. The adrenalin will be rushing and sometimes those guys deserve another chance to see if they can do it on the big stage."

Vaughan said England's batsmen need to start converting good starts into centuries, with Paul Collingwood the top-scorer so far with 90.

Bangladesh are the only other side left in the Super 8s not to have registered a ton.

"Where we have struggled is that we haven't got players to a hundred and that's the one area we've been lacking," said Vaughan, who is yet to score a century himself in 81 one-day internationals.

"If a guy gets to 50 or 60, if he goes on to get a hundred we generally go on to get a good score as we did in Australia, but over here guys have been getting to 40, 50 or 60 and getting out and we need to improve."

Vaughan has only managed 78 runs in four matches but he added: "I do believe there is a big score around the corner if I keep doing the right things and keep playing as I can do."

If England need any reminder of how good Sri Lanka are, they only have to think back to last summer when they were whitewashed 5-0 on home soil.

And in paceman Lasith Malinga and spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, they face two of the tournament's leading wicket-takers, with 24 victims between them so far.

On Malinga, Vaughan said: "I haven't faced him. They all tell me if you can get over the first four or five balls, the first two overs, it gets easier so it's going to be interesting.

"He has had one decent game in the tournament when he got four wickets in four balls but he is also going for runs as well so we feel there is an opportunity to score against him.

"It's very difficult to prepare for the likes of Malinga. We've tried to throw a few side-armers in the nets and it's very difficult to get it to a 90mph speed."

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