In a surprising turn of events, Sri Lanka toppled defending champions England by eight wickets in a World Cup clash in Bengaluru on Thursday, breathing new life into the tournament.
The win was fueled by a solid partnership between Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama, who both scored half-centuries and a stellar three-wicket performance by bowler Lahiru Kumara.
The victory has sent shockwaves through the tournament, pushing Sri Lanka up to the fifth position with four points from two wins. England, however, now languishes at the second-last spot, having lost four out of their five games. Their chances of progressing further in the tournament look increasingly bleak, especially with other teams like India, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia performing well.
England, opting to bat first, made a promising start as openers Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow compiled 44 runs in under six overs. However, their momentum was halted when Angelo Mathews dismissed Malan for 28 runs in the seventh over.
Soon after, Kasun Rajitha dealt a massive blow to England by taking Bairstow’s wicket for 30 runs. Despite a valiant effort by Ben Stokes, who scored 43 off 73 deliveries, the English lineup crumbled against Sri Lanka’s fiery bowling attack.
Lahiru Kumara was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Mathews chipped in with two wickets, conceding only 14 runs. England were eventually bowled out for a meagre 156 runs.
In their chase of 157, Sri Lanka had a rocky start, losing opener Kusal Perera for just four runs, caught by Ben Stokes off David Willey’s bowling. Captain Kusal Mendis was also disappointed, exiting the field after making only 11 runs, leaving Sri Lanka at 23/2 in 5.2 overs.
However, Nissanka and Samarawickrama orchestrated a superb comeback, bringing up their fifty-run partnership in 8.5 overs and the 100-run mark in 16.2 overs. Nissanka’s half-century was his fourth consecutive in the tournament, tying him with the legendary Kumar Sangakkara for the most successive fifty-plus scores in Sri Lanka’s tournament history. Samarawickrama also notched up his half-century in 44 balls, his second in a row for the tournament.
Nissanka ultimately sealed the win for Sri Lanka with a six, finishing unbeaten with 77 runs off 83 balls, including seven fours and two sixes. Samarawickrama also remained unbeaten with 65 runs off 54 balls, consisting of six fours and a six.
England: 156 (Ben Stokes 43, Jonny Bairstow 30; Lahiru Kumara 3-35) Sri Lanka: 160/2 in 25.4 overs (Pathum Nissanka 77*, Sadeera Samarawickrama 65*; David Willey 2/30)
The stunning defeat for England leaves them virtually out of the tournament, while Sri Lanka’s dominating performance has significantly spiced up the ongoing World Cup competition.
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