Bopara focused on 'must-win' game
10:32am Wednesday 26th March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Ravi Bopara insists England cannot rely on complex mathematical equations or favours from elsewhere and must beat Sri Lanka to keep their World Twenty20 hopes alive.
Such is the compressed nature of the tournament that England find themselves firmly in do-or-die territory having played just one match - a controversial defeat to New Zealand that was settled somewhat unsatisfactorily on Duckworth/Lewis.
Strictly speaking they can afford to lose to Sri Lanka on Thursday and still retain an outside chance of progressing to the semi-finals, but that would require results to fall kindly elsewhere in Group 1 and for a highly unlikely swing in net run-rates.
As such, it is a state of affairs England have given short shrift in their planning this week.
"It is a must-win game for us," said Bopara.
"I don't think we know about the mathematical side of it: we have to win.
"Winning against Sri Lanka would be a big thing for us, a big confidence boost and that's how we're looking at it.
"The belief is still high in this team. We've done a lot of good things in the last few games, although we haven't won a lot of games the boys are getting better at their skills."
English hearts can hardly have leapt with joy to see Sri Lanka demolish Holland in their previous fixture.
Although heavy favourites to beat the only Associate member to make it as far as the Super 10 stage, few would have predicted the embarrassing scale of their landslide victory.
Holland were bundled out for a record low of 39, Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis predictably to the fore, before the chase was wrapped up in a perfunctory five overs.
England had gathered in their Chittagong hotel to take in the match, but had to find other plans for most of the evening.
"We were having a team meal in the team room, watching the game, and I've got to say it didn't last very long," added Bopara.
Despite that, there was no sense of fear from the all-rounder about the prospect of facing down the yorker assault of Malinga or the mystery spin of Mendis.
"I didn't expect them to be bowled out for 39 but Sri Lanka are tough customers, especially if you haven't played them before," he said.
"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, we've played Mendis, we've played most of them actually, so we'll be a little bit more prepared."
England's relatively modest six-hitting reputation is thought to count against them in the shortest format, though they did manage to clear the ropes on five occasions against New Zealand.
Their mark of 172 for six in that clash remains the highest score in four matches at ZACS Stadium, but Bopara admits to a gnawing doubt about how early middle-order players like himself should go for the big shots.
"Obviously you have to hit sixes in T20 cricket to push the run-rates up," he said.
"I'm going to face roughly between 10-20 balls, at most, batting at number six so I need to be ready to hit a six after my third or fourth ball.
"I have been lying in my bed at times and thought: why don't I just hit the first ball for six? More often than not, the bowler just wants to land it on a length and hopefully get a dot, so it's probably the best ball to hit out of the park.
"It is a mental approach, definitely. But I have thought about it. You never know. I might do it tomorrow, if I get a bat."