Grounds for hope in Colombo

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

Ravi Bopara

A diving Ravi Bopara just fails in his spectacular attempt to catch Kumar Sangakkara when the two teams met in 2007

Facing Sri Lanka at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo appears a rather tough assignment for Andrew Strauss' men, but trawling through the record books will provide a modicum of comfort for any England supporter.

Not only is the hosts' form here rather indifferent in recent years, but this is also the ground where England sealed a first one-day series triumph in Sri Lanka four years ago.

In Sri Lanka's last 16 one-day internationals at the newly refurbished ground, they have slumped to nine defeats and won just five. Heavy rain accounted for the remaining two, which included the washed out World Cup group game against Australia earlier this month.

England have not enjoyed much success here either - they have won just twice - but they will have fond memories of their most recent visit which saw them make history.

Leading 2-1 in the five match series, England restricted their hosts to 211 for nine with James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom both picking up three wickets.

England's reply was based on Alastair Cook's measured 80 and a powerful 63 not out from Kevin Pietersen, which helped the tourists to a five-wicket win.

Five of that victorious XI - Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Paul Collingwood, Graeme Swann and Anderson - are currently in Colombo and will no doubt cast their minds back to that wonderful evening before the teams renew rivalries on Saturday.

Marcus Trescothick

Marcus Trescothick sweeps during his brutal century which set up England's comfortable victory over Zimbabwe in 2002

Sri Lanka won the dead rubber at the same venue three days later but it was a mere consolation victory.

England's other win came nine years ago - a 108-run victory over Zimbabwe in the Champions Trophy.

After Marcus Trescothick smashed 119 and Nasser Hussain added a more sedate 75, Ronnie Irani and Matthew Hoggard shared seven wickets to bowl England to a comfortable win. England team director Andy Flower made 44 for Zimbabwe.

Those two victories are England's only successes in eight matches at this ground, although two games were lost to the weather in 2003.

Statistics suggest the wicket will be batsman-friendly and there are 13 instances of a side making 300 runs or more. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene seem to enjoy batting here and have scored more than 2,500 ODI runs between them.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Muttiah Muralitharan is the most successful bowler at the ground in ODIs with 71 wickets.

The toss could prove important too. Teams batting first are more successful - of the 92 completed matches, the side who bats first has won 57 times compared with 35 victories by sides who fielded first.

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