Sri Lanka further wreck England chances of World Cup semifinal berth

By BD Naraayannkar
Bengaluru, Oct 26 (UNI) Defending champions England are but nearly knocked out of the World Cup after Sri Lanka defeated them in a crucial match for both teams, thanks to a 100-run plus unbeaten third wicket stand between Sadeera Samarawickrama and Pathum Nissanka in the 25th match of the ICC Men’s World Cup at Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

Nissanka (77* off 83 7x4s 2x6s) and Sadeera (65* off 54 7x4s 1×6) cracked unbeaten half-centuries to topple England by 8 wickets, bringing smiles on the face of Coach Chris Silverwood, the ex-England coach who was sacked after facing Ashes debacle against Australia in 2022 after seeing off England winning the World Cup title in 2019.

Before the unconquered batsmen saw their side cross over the mark, comeback men Lahiru Kumara and Angelo Mathews shared five wickets among them, and another two by Kasun Rajitha.

These efforts helped Sri Lanka bundle out England for the lowest-ever total of 156 at Chinnaswamy and then register a big win with nearly 25 overs to spare.

Lahiru bagged three wickets for 35, and Mathews ended with figures of 2/14, besides Kasun Rajitha scalped as many wickets for 36 runs.

Sri Lanka also were too good in the field as they staged two run-outs, Joe Root’s as the lowest all-out total was recorded at Bengaluru.

The result means that England’s defence of their World Cup crown is effectively over, with Jos Buttler’s team needing to win all of their remaining results, a huge swing in net run rate and other matches to go their way to stand any chance of reaching the semifinals.

England were offered a glimmer of hope when David Willey struck twice in the opening Powerplay to remove both Kusal Perera (4) and Kusal Mendis (11).

Willey’s impressive opening spell threatened to bother Sri Lanka’s chase, but Nissanka and Sadeera counterattacked to leave the Lankans in an exceptionally strong position.

And the pair put together a match-winning century stand, consolidating at first before accelerating to the win, giving their team a huge net run rate boost in the process.

As usual, Dilshan Madushanka was right on the mark with the new ball. In fact, he could have had a wicket off the very first delivery of the game.

After getting a good start from Bairstow and Dawid Malan (28), England were rattled by Sri Lanka bowlers who reduced them to 85/5 in the 17th over.

Bairstow (30 off 31) was lucky to have survived a catch appeal at long-on off Dilshan Madushanka’s very ball of the match, but the ball caressed his pad, and had Sri Lanka taken the review he would have been declared leg before.

Thereafter, the English openers took off in their inimitable aggressive mould. However, a brace from Sri Lankan bowlers, pushed England back to the wall.

Malan edged one to Kusal Mendis behind the stumps off the very first over of comeback man Angelo Mathews, who rolled his arms in the ODI after 2022.

Joe Root (3) was unfortunately run out in the 10th over, leaving England at 57/2.

England lost the plot as Sri Lankan bowlers got the ball to veer around. Bairstow did not capitalise on his luck and went for a big shot against Kasun Rajitha and ws holed out at mid-on by Dhanajaya de Silva.

Captain Jos Buttler (8) marched back after chasing a wide delivery off Lahiru Kumara after Mendis picked up the catch behind the timbers.

Liam Livingstone (1) was adjudged leg-before soon after, again by Lahiru. Out-of-sorts Ben Stokes survived a couple of close calls, to stay at the wicket and managed a small stand with Moeen Ali for the sixth wicket.

Just when England looked to settle down, Ali was dismissed by Mathews. Stokes 43 off 73) tried to lift England out of the slumber with an intention to score runs.

However, Sri Lanka had different ideas and picked up wickets at regular intervals, including a superb run-out staged by Mendis to send back Adil Rashid (2).

The Sri Lankan stumper gathered the ball down the leg-side and then quickly recognised Rashid was struggling to get back to his crease at the non-strikers’ end. Mendis then ran him out with a good throw, eventually bundling out England in the 34th over.

Skipper Buttler won the toss and elected to bat first. Livingstone, Chris Woakes, and Moeen made it into the XI at the expense of Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson, and the injured Reece Topley. Mathews and Lahiru came into Sri Lanka’s playing XI.

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