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HomesportscricketICC World Cup: Sri Lanka break English hearts

ICC World Cup: Sri Lanka break English hearts

Bengaluru: For all the inferences given to England’s off-colour displays this World Cup, their lack of aggressive batting intent was the chief talking point.

But this very approach led to England’s dramatic downfall here on Thursday, as Sri Lanka handed them a crushing eight-wicket defeat.

There is a fine line between picking the right moments to up the scoring and displaying outright carelessness while setting a target.

England’s batters fell victim to the latter, as Sri Lanka’s bowlers ironed out their early waywardness and zeroed in on a ruthlessly efficient line and length to bowl England out for a paltry 156.

Opting to bat first on a pitch that offered bounce and movement, England brought in Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes in place ofthe injured Reece Topley, Gus Atkinson and Harry Brook.

Jonny Bairstow, who was fortunate to survive a first ball LBW shout, and Dawid Malan got England off to a flier.

Malan cashed in on width, driving on the up through cover, while Bairstow hung back on the back-foot to cut.

Just as England were cruising at 45-0, the returning Angelo Mathews removed Malan with a cross-seam delivery that kissed the edge of the southpaw’s bat.

Mathews was in the thick of action again, inflicting a run-out on Joe Root with a bullet throw from point. Root set off hesitantly, and was belatedly sent back by his fellow Yorkshireman Bairstow.

The Lankans choked the flow of runs by bowling tight lines, backed up by some good fielding.

They were amply rewarded when Bairstow mistimed a pull to Dhananjaya de Silva, as Kasun Rajitha opened his tally.

Captain Jos Buttler fell the next over, edging his attempted drive off Lahiru Kumara to his opposite number Kusal Mendis, who took a good catch diving to his right.

England continued their capitulation as Kumara (3-35), who came in for Dushan Hemantha, impressed with his pace and bounce. He then accounted for Livingstone, trapping him in front.

Moeen Ali was befuddled by Mathews’ lack of pace, ending a 37-run partnership with Ben Stokes. Chris Woakes did not trouble the scorers, with Sadeera Samarawickrama pouching a terrific catch at point.

Stokes was handed a couple of lifelines en-route a battling 43, but was sucked into a half-hearted hoick by Kumara that went straight to substitute fielder Dushan Hemantha.

Adil Rashid was run-out in comical fashion while looking to pinch a bye, aptly summing up England’s dismal day.

Maheesh Theekshana, who bowled brilliantly, got Mark Wood stumped to end England’s misery.

Sri Lanka faced an early wobble in their chase when Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis both fell prey to Willey (2-30)’s late swing. Sadeera Samarawickrama (65 n.o.) and Pathum Nissanka (77 n.o.) stemmed the flow of wickets

The elegant duo were severe on Rashid, both walloping the leggie for massive sixes over long on.

Samarawickrama and Nissanka added 137 to steer Sri Lanka home comfortably with 24 overs to spare, extending the Lankans’ win streak over England in World Cups to five.

(Published 26 October 2023, 14:10 IST)

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