Inspired Sri Lanka humble the holders in Bengaluru

On Thursday, October 26, in Bangalore, Sri Lanka upset England by eight wickets, bringing the World Cup to yet another surprising conclusion. Even though the overwhelming outcome wasn’t totally anticipated, it was a sort of role reversal as the defending champions suffered a crushing defeat for the fourth time in the competition, endangering their hopes of winning the championship.

Technically speaking, this is not an upset because Sri Lanka had won the previous four rounds of this competition. After opting to bat, England collapsed to a pitiful 156 before the game’s halfway mark. All Sri Lanka had to do afterward was keep their cool, which they did brilliantly.

David Willey gave the English side some hope with his two goals in the first Powerplay. The left-arm bowler pulled out Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis in an attempt to put some pressure on Sri Lanka. However, Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama collaborated to put up an unbeaten fifty-run partnership in a 137-run partnership, ensuring the team’s easy passage.

It should be sufficient to say that the goal was accomplished with nearly half of the allotted overs still available. Nonetheless, considering England’s low run-rate, it’s hard to be too hard on their bowlers. Earlier in the day, England’s fate was ultimately sealed by yet another batting error.

Recognising the general constraints of a venue is one thing, but being able to adapt when the tracks behave differently is quite another. On the slam-bang-wallop configuration of the Chinnaswamy court, powerhitters typically have a field day, but that was not the case today. The deck moved very slowly, and every now and again a ball would linger for a little while.

England had only the tail when they learned of this information too late. It was obvious from the start that the defending champions would put in a lot of effort to get a good score. During the competition, Australia and South Africa had done a lot of this. 

Not even the fiercely competitive cricketing nation of England has ever produced a show quite this awful. The batting team had complete faith in the Chinnaswamy surface as an ally and thought that today would be the beginning of their comeback. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a very good song.

The opening five overs of England’s innings seemed to see some confident play from the England team. The addition of comeback players Maheesh Theekshana and Angelo Mathews altered the course of the match. Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow each scored multiple runs up front. The veteran was crucial in Joe Root’s run-out as England started to unravel, and he started the recovery with Malan’s crucial wicket.

The remaining English batting order was rapidly removed by the pace combination of Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha, but Theekshana held things tight. Ben Stokes was the only person to challenge him, and even he wasn’t moving as quickly as normal. That was the exact type of batting meltdown that keeps teams from winning games.

Brief scores:

 England 156 in 33.2 overs (Ben Stokes 43; Lahiru Kumara 3-35, Angelo Mathews 2-14) lost to Sri Lanka 160/2 in 25.4 overs (Pathum Nissanka 77*, Sadeera Samarawickrama 65*) by eight wickets

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