Lanka Cruises to Victory Over England

England were offered a glimmer of hope when David Willey struck twice in the opening Powerplay to remove both Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis…reports Asian Lite News

Sri Lanka produced a dominant performance to beat England by eight wickets here on Thursday at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, wrapping up the win with 24.2 overs of their chase to spare.

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

And Sri Lanka, who move up to fifth in the standings with the win, have now won all of their last five Men’s Cricket World Cup meetings with England.

As disappointing as the defending champions were in Bengaluru, Sri Lanka were right on the money, ripping through the England attack with some excellent bowling performances from Maheesh Theekshana and the recalled pair of Lahiru Kumara and Angelo Mathews.

And they reached their lowly target of just 157 to win, thanks to outstanding half-centuries from Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama.

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

Willey’s impressive opening spell threatened to stunt Sri Lanka’s chase, but Nissanka and Samarawickrama 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.

The coin fell in the favour of England skipper Buttler and he elected to bat first, confirming three changes with Liam Livingstone, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali returning at the expense of Harry Brook, Gus Atkinson and the injured Reece Topley. 

But the Kusal Mendis-led side, who brought Mathews and Kumara back in, ran through England’s top and middle-order in Bengaluru to bowl them out for 156 — the lowest all-out total ever in an ODI in Bengaluru.

Kumara (3/35), Mathews (2/14), and Rajitha (2/36) were the top wicket-takers, while Theekshana tied England in knots, conceding just 21 runs from his 8.2 overs. 

The Lankans also benefitted from some sharp work in the field, which included two run outs. 

Dilshan Madushanka could have picked up a wicket with the very first ball, swinging one into Jonny Bairstow that replays showed clipped the bat before squirting off the bat to long on. 

Sri Lanka opted not to review, and England’s openers set about taking advantage with an aggressive opening partnership.

Dawid Malan was particularly fluent, only to fall in Mathews’ first over, edging behind for 28 from 25 balls. This was the first time Mathews had bowled in an ODI since 2020, and came just days after he was added to the Sri Lanka squad as an injury replacement.

And England suffered another huge blow when Joe Root was run out for three.

A clipped shot was never likely to yield a run, but both Bairstow and Root initially set off, leaving Root stranded as he desperately dived to get back into his ground. 

It’s the fourth time that there has been a run out in a Root-Bairstow partnership in international cricket, with Root the player to be dismissed on all four occasions.

With their two likeliest anchors back in the hutch, England lost momentum as Sri Lanka pacers got the ball to swerve around and Theekshana held down an end.

 And the wickets came from the pressure as England looked to counter-attack.

Bairstow couldn’t make the most of his early luck, shanking a poor drive off Rajitha to mid-on. 

And out-of-form Buttler departed for just 8 when he flashed at a wide delivery from Kumara and was well caught behind by Mendis. 

Four soon became five, as England’s returning batter Liam Livingstone (1) played all around a fast straight ball from Kumara to be trapped leg-before soon after, again by Kumara. 

Ben Stokes survived a couple of close calls, to stay at the wicket, and managed to stitch together a small stand with Moeen Ali for the sixth wicket, to briefly give England hope of reaching a competitive total.

But just as things seemed to be normalising for England, Ali miscued a push into the off side to loft a simple catch to Kusal Perara off Angelo Mathews, leaving England hopes resting squarely on Ben Stokes. 

Chris Woakes (0) was unhappy that a Samarawickrama catch was ruled out on replays, but had to depart without scoring. And Stokes’ top-scoring effort of 43 from 73 balls came to a disappointing end when he shanked a heave into the deep. 

And there was yet more ignominy to come for England, when Mendis brilliantly ran out Adil Rashid. 

Mendis collected one down the leg-side and then quickly noticed that Rashid was still well out of his crease at the non-strikers’ end, running him out with a splendid throw. 

Mark Wood (5) was stumped in the last wicket to fall, with Willey on 14, meaning England had been skittled for just 156 in 33.2 overs, leaving their bowling attack with an almighty task.

 Willey’s excellent opening spell briefly raised the prospect of a tight finish in Bengaluru, as wickets fell early in the reply.

Kusal Perara (4) was the first to go, five balls into Willey’s first over, misreading a ball that just held up a touch and clipping a catch to Stokes. 

And Willey soon had the dangerous Mendis back in the dugout too, getting just rewards for an excellent spell against the Sri Lanka skipper, with Jos Buttler taking a steepling catch via a miscued flick off the legs.

The returning Woakes bowled better than his previous three appearances at the tournament, but looked largely unthreatening and was unable to match Willey’s pressure with the new ball.

And Sri Lanka saw off the rest of the new-ball spell before attacking England’s change bowlers of Rashid and Wood, accelerating towards their target.

England all-rounder Moeen had spoken prior to the match about the need for scoreboard pressure to give spinners a chance in Bengaluru. But there was nothing of the sort for either the 36-year-old or Livingstone to work with, as the pair were brought on later in proceedings with the writing firmly on the wall for England.

Samarawickrama finished unbeaten on 65 from 54 balls, while Nissanka brought up the win in style with a huge six to end with 77 from 83. 

The result means that Sri Lanka have four points and have kept their semi-final hopes alive at the tournament. 

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