NEW DELHI: Sri Lanka dealt a severe blow to England’s hopes of advancing in the World Cup, delivering an emphatic eight-wicket victory that brought the defending champions to the brink of elimination.
This marked Sri Lanka’s second win out of five games in the tournament, harking back to their 1996 championship victory. In contrast, England found themselves in a precarious position with four losses and only one victory, necessitating a string of four consecutive wins to maintain their slim chance of reaching the semi-finals.
AS IT HAPPENED: England vs Sri Lanka
In a straightforward chase of 157 runs, Sri Lanka cruised to 160-2 with a remarkable 146 balls remaining, courtesy of the outstanding performances by Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama.Nissanka showcased his exceptional form by remaining unbeaten at 77, his fourth consecutive half-century in the tournament, achieved in just 83 balls with seven fours and two sixes. The final blow came when he struck a towering six off Adil Rashid, sealing the win.
Samarawickrama was equally impressive, scoring 65 not out from 54 balls, featuring seven fours and a six, adding to the 108 he scored against Pakistan and the 91 in the match against the Netherlands.
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England’s innings saw Ben Stokes as the highest scorer with 43 runs, but even his efforts couldn’t rescue his team as Sri Lanka dismantled their batting order in a mere 33.2 overs.
Despite England’s brisk start, reaching 45-0 within the first seven overs, the veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews proved to be a game-changer. Mathews, making his return to the squad in place of the injured Matheesha Pathirana, dismissed Dawid Malan after he had contributed 28 runs and executed the run-out of Joe Root (three). He also claimed the wicket of the recalled Moeen Ali (15).
Jonny Bairstow, with 30 off 31 balls, became Kasun Rajitha’s first victim in the match. Captain Jos Buttler, who scored just eight runs, and Liam Livingstone, making a comeback with only one run, fell to the fast bowler Lahiru Kumara.
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Chris Woakes’ underwhelming World Cup campaign continued as he was dismissed for zero by Rajitha, leaving England struggling at 123-7 in the 26th over. Stokes, who was at the non-striker’s end, disputed the catch’s cleanliness, but the decision stood upon review.
Stokes was England’s last hope, but he departed for 43 when he was caught by substitute fielder Dushan Hemantha off Kumara. Stokes’ runs came from 73 balls, including six fours, as England’s score slumped to 137-8.
The comical run-out of Adil Rashid by wicket-keeper Kusal Mendis further added to England’s woes, and spinner Maheesh Theekshana finished off the innings by having Mark Wood stumped for just five runs.