Hosts England were stunned for the second time in the 2019 ICC World Cup with the tournament favourites on the receiving end of a 20-run defeat against Sri Lanka at Headingley.
Sri Lanka had only posted a modest total of 232-9 with the bat but a four-wicket haul by Lasith Malinga inspired the side to only their second win of the tournament with England getting bundled over for 212 runs.
England lost their openers Jonny Bairstow and James Vince early in their chase of 233 with Malinga striking both times. The hosts looked to be recovering through a promising stand between Joe Root and skipper Eoin Morgan but a stunning catch off his own bowling by Isuru Udana ended the 21-run star of the latter.
Root managed to register his fifth fifty-plus score of the tournament but the right-hander’s dismissal by Malinga in the 31st over gave Sri Lanka another opening. That opening was exactly what the Lankans needed with Malinga trapping Jos Buttler lbw for a duck just moments later.
Ben Stokes held one end up for England with a gritty knock but Sri Lanka kept chipping away at the wickets at the other end with Dhanajaya de Silva picking up two scalps.
Stokes was left stranded on 57 as Nuwan Pradeep removed last man Mark Wood to spark wild celebrations among the Sri Lankans.
Earlier, Sri Lanka got off to a disastrous start with the bat with openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera falling inside the first three overs. Avishka Fernando (49) and Kusal Mendis (46) helped resurrect the innings before Adil Rashid’s double-strike opened the floodgates again.
It took a fighting unbeaten 85 off 115 deliveries from veteran Angelo Mathews that helped Sri Lanka ultimately post 232-9 as wickets kept falling at the other end.
The veteran Sri Lanka pacer rose to the occasion when his side needed it most with a game-changing four-wicket haul.
With just a paltry total of 232 to defend, Sri Lanka desperately needed early wickets and that is exactly what Malinga provided them. The pacer removed England openers Jonny Bairstow and James Vince in the powerplay to give Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope with the new ball.
The veteran then returned to heap further destruction on England in his second spell, just when the hosts started to consolidate with a Joe Root half-century. Malinga ended Root’s resolute stay before dismissing dangerman Jos Buttler with a brilliant slower delivery.
Those two crucial wickets in the middle overs swung the pendulum back in Sri Lanka’s favour.
What a performance by @OfficialSLC great win inspired bowling by lasith Malinga and danajaya de silva . WOW. Hope this is the catalyst for the team to believe even more. Now for the batsmen to respond with heart— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) June 21, 2019
Favourites England’s semi-final hopes in jeopardy
England would have been eyeing a return to the top of the table ahead of the clash but they now find their semi-final prospects looking uncertain after their shock defeat.
The tournament favourites were stunned earlier by Pakistan but their recent results had seen them rediscover their best form. Morgan’s men still remain in third spot with eight points after six games but have India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh hot on their heels.
The worrying part for the hosts is that their three remaining clashes are against the other three tournament favourites. England have to face Australia, India and New Zealand in their final games and will need to be at their very best if they are to book a place in the last four.
Malinga brings up World Cup fifty
With his dismissal of Jos Buttler on Friday, Lasith Malinga has become only the fourth bowler in history to pick up 50 wickets in the World Cup.
Only Glenn Australia’s McGrath (71), Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (68) and Pakistan’s Wasim Akram (55) have achieved the feat previously.
Know more about Sport360 Application