•      Wed Dec 6 2023

Sri Lanka outclass defending champions England, win by eight wickets

Bengaluru, Oct 26 (ANI): Sri Lanka scored a minor upset in the World Cup and further opened up the tournament as they outclassed defending champions England to win by eight wickets.

A solid partnership based on half-centuries from Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama and a three-wicket haul by Lahiru Kamara paved the way for Sri Lanka’s dominating victory in Bengaluru on Thursday.

England have now lost four of five games and are at the second-last spot in the points table.

Sri Lanka have moved to the fifth spot with two wins and four points. England appear to be virtually out of the tournament considering that India, South Africa, New Zealand are in good form and Australia appear to have regained their form.

Chasing 157, Sri Lanka did not have a very good start as opener Kusal Perera was dismissed for just four runs by David Willey. Ben Stokes took a fine catch to dismiss him. They lost their first wicket at a score of nine. Skipper Kusal Mendis also put up yet another disappointing performance as he went back to the pavilion after scoring 11 runs. Sri Lanka appeared were 23/2 in 5.2 overs.

Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama started to rebuild the innings and the fifty-run mark came in 8.5 overs and the 100-run mark in 16.2 overs.

Nissanka reached his half-century, his fourth successive in this tournament, in 54 balls and tied with legendary Kumar Sangakkara for the most successive fifty-plus scores for Sri Lanka in tournament history.

England simply had no answers to the batting as Samarawickrama also reached his half-century in 44 balls, his second successive in the tournament.

Nissanka sealed an eight-wicket win with a six in 25.4 overs. Nissanka (77* in 83 balls, seven fours and two sixes) and Samarawickrama (65* in 54 balls, six fours and a six) did not allow England bowlers to settle.

Earlier, Lahiru Kumara and Angelo Mathews bowled fiery spells to slice through England’s strong batting lineup as Sri Lanka bundled out the defending champions for a paltry 156.

Ben Stokes scored the highest for England at 43 off 73 deliveries. Jonny Bairstow contributed 30 while other batters faltered against Sri Lanka’s bowling attack. Lahiru Kumara bagged three wickets for Sri Lanka while veteran Angelo Mathews scalped two wickets conceding just 14 runs.

Opting to bat first, England openers Dawid Malan and Bairstow gave their team a solid start as the duo gathered 44 runs in under six overs. Angelo Mathews drew the first blood as he removed Malan for 28 runs in the seventh over of the game.

Kasun Rajitha gave England a massive blow as he dismissed well-set batter Bairstow for 30. The defending champions kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

England batters tried a more conventional approach but that too was not enough to fend off Sri Lanka’s bowling. Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes tried to keep the scoreboard ticking through singles and occasional boundary.

Mathews bagged his second wicket of the match as he scalped Moeen Ali in the 25th over of the game. Stokes slammed a few boundaries to ease pressure from his team. With Stokes leaving in the 31st over, England’s hope of putting up a big total suffered a setback.

Maheesh Theekshana made quick work of the defending champions’ lower order, taking the wicket of Mark Wood to bowl England out for 156.

Brief score: England 156 (Ben Stokes 43, Jonny Bairstow 30; Lahiru Kumara 3-35) lose to Sri Lanka: 160/2 in 25.4 overs (Pathum Nissanka 77*, Sadeera Samarawickrama 65*, David Willey 2/30).