Mumbai: Firm favourites for the title, defending champions England have an easy opener to deal with when they take on tournament minnows Sri Lanka in a Group A match of the Women's Cricket World Cup here Friday. The three-time winners of the tournament, since its inception in 1973, and the World T20 runners-up are led by Charlotte Edwards, who is set to appear in her fifth successive Cup.
She led England to a four-wicket victory over Australia in the 2009 tournament final at Sydney. England have a 100 per cent record against their rivals, considered outsiders in the race to the Super Six stage. The two teams have met on eight occasions, including one washed out match, and England have come out trumps seven times, making them clear front-runners.
The England squad features familiar faces. There are eight players from the original winning squad of 2009 including the in-form ICC Women's Twenty20 Player of the Year Sarah Taylor, who will once again lead the side's batting line-up. Apart from Edwards, the most capped woman's player in ODIs with 160 appearances including 86 as captain, England have a top wicket-keeper batter in Sarah Taylor.
Pacer Katherine Brunt, the number one ODI bowler in ICC Women's ODI Player Rankings with 76 scalps to her name, along with the talented slow left-armer Holly Colvin will be top bowlers for England. They also have three other spinners in the squad -- Danielle Hazel, Laura Marsh and Danni Wyatt.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, are looked upon as the team most likely to make an exit at the preliminary stage from this group that also has hosts India and the West Indies. Captained by middle-order batter and off-spinner Sashikala Siriwardene, Sri Lanka have a mountain to climb against England -- winners in 1973, 1993 and 2009 and runners-up in 1978, 1981 and 1988.
Lanka, who look upon former captain and all rounder Chamani Seneviratna to play a key role, had finished eighth in the last edition. They had ended up sixth in 2000, their best finish, and made the quarters three years earlier. They won the right to compete in the tournament by finishing in the top four of the ICC Women's World Cup Qualifier held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in November 2011.