Match Day Centre Pakistan lead England by 166 runs with 2 wickets remaining

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World Cup reaches knock-out stage

England will face co-hosts Sri Lanka as the ICC World Cup quarter-finals were finalised after the group stages were concluded.

The 'Clash in Colombo' is the final of the four quarter-final fixtures, which get underway on Wednesday 23 March after a brief pause in the hectic schedule in the sub-continent.

The knockout stages are set to provide a thrilling finale to a competition in which no one side has put themselves forward as out-and-out favourites.

Pakistan v West Indies - Wednesday 23 March, Mirpur
India v Australia - Thursday 24 March, Ahmedabad
New Zealand v South Africa - Friday 25 March, Mirpur
Sri Lanka v England - Saturday 26 March, Colombo

Hope for England

England’s extraordinary route to the knock-out stages has drawn comparisons from, among others, England bowler Graeme Swann, with Pakistan’s World Cup winning campaign in 1992.

After scraping through to the knockout stages, an Imran Khan-inspired Pakistan went on to beat England in the final in Melbourne.

Andrew Strauss’ side have lurched from inspired to infuriating whilst making it this far – including losing memorable matches against Ireland and Bangladesh.

The manner of their recovery to beat the West Indies, after the game looked lost, was typical of the side’s stubborn refusal to live an easy life in the World Cup.

Now, with the end of a long, fluctuating winter potentially only one match away, Strauss will be hopeful his men can muster enough focus for one last push towards glory.

They will have their work cut out against a strong Sri Lanka outfit cheered on by a passionate home crowd.

Classic encounter

Unquestionably the match of the quarter-finals is the meeting between holders Australia and hosts India in Ahmedabad.

Australia’s 34-match unbeaten run in World Cups was ended emphatically by Pakistan in their final group clash in Colombo.

The holders were in poor form, especially with the bat, as they were dismissed for just 176 - before Pakistan romped home in only 41 overs.

The form of several key top-order players - not least under pressure captain Ricky Ponting - is of grave concern for the Aussies.

India have been in good form throughout the tournament, finishing second in the group to South Africa - the only side to beat them so far.

While their batsmen have filled their boots, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows his bowlers – linchpin Zaheer Khan in particular – will have to be on top form for the rest of the competition.

Knockout chance

Pakistan, dark horses to lift the trophy, will be favourites to overcome a West Indies side who blew winning positions against England and India in their last two matches.

The Pakistani's superb bowling attack, led by Umar Gul and skipper Shahid Afridi, makes them arguably the most dangerous side in the tournament.

New Zealand, perennial over achievers at World Cups, will be hopeful of overcoming favourites South Africa in the other last eight tie.

Both sides could welcome back key-spinners, Kiwi skipper Daniel Vettori and Proteas' new boy Imran Tahir, to their line-ups.

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