Hosts and initial 2019 World Cup England suffered their second defeat of the tournament after they failed to deal with Lasith Malinga’s toe-crushers. With this setback, England find themselves at the end of an unwanted record involving Sri Lanka, the World Cup and 21st century.
In all four World Cup meetings between the two teams post 2000 (2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019), Sri Lanka have emerged victorious. Given the form of both teams before they clashed at Leeds, England were deemed favourites to win the game and break the jinx.
But a sensational bowling effort from the Lankan lions earned them two vital points and brought some life to the World Cup table.
Sri Lanka defending a low total at Leeds was reminiscent of their win during the encounter between the two teams in the Super Eights in the 2007 World Cup.
Asked to bat first, Mahela Jayawardene’s team managed a meagre 235 runs before they were bowled out. A collective bowling effort led by Dilhara Fernando powered Sri Lanka to an unlikely win.
The quarter-final of the 2011 World Cup also saw a low-scoring fixture between the two teams. England put 229 runs on the board in their quota of 50 overs and the eventual runners-up chased it down without losing a single wicket.
The same fixture was not kind to Eoin Morgan’s men in the 2015 World Cup either. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, England set a competitive target of 210 for the Lankans. Centuries from Lahiru Thirmanne and Kumar Sangakkara provided Sri Lanka a huge win in the group stage game.
Malinga’s 4/43 on Friday helped Sri Lanka maintain the 100 per cent record in World Cup game in the 21st century. The 35-year-old produced a splendid display to help his team defend an underwhelming total of 232.
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Faf Du Plessis has branded South Africa’s disastrous World Cup campaign as “embarrassing”.
The Proteas slipped to a 49-run loss to Pakistan at Lord’s that ended any hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
South Africa’s worst-ever World Cup could become even more troublesome, with dead rubbers against Sri Lanka and Australia still to come.
But captain Du Plessis insisted he will stand up and be counted in a bid to steer his confidence-shot squad to a positive finish in the tournament.
@OfficialCSA There will be a lot of questions asked after this @cricketworldcup there is no doubt. Most important one for me is what will the 4 year plan look like moving forward when the dust settles?— Allan Donald (@AllanDonald33) June 23, 2019
Asked if this represents the lowest moment of his international career, Du Plessis replied: “Yes, definitely.
“I’m a very proud player and captain, and playing for South Africa means a lot to me. The fact the results we’re dishing out at the moment, it’s really, really tough.
“It’s becoming a little bit embarrassing, we’re trying but it’s not good enough. Obviously I’m human as well, so it’s chipping away at me.
“But I don’t have an opportunity to go anywhere, it’s important we all front up to this challenge. That’s when your players need you the most, so I’ll stand up to that challenge.”
Du Plessis hit 64 in vain as South Africa mustered just 259 for nine, failing to reach the required 309 for victory.
The 34-year-old skipper might be unable to hold onto the captaincy after the tournament, and head coach Ottis Gibson should depart too given his contract is up for renewal.
Du Plessis is determined for South Africa not to slip away with a whimper, but conceded the string of defeats has damaged confidence.
“It’s probably harsh to say that was the worst performance ever but we are frustrated,” said Du Plessis, whose side have only beaten Afghanistan so far in the tournament.
“We keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Imran Tahir was exceptional once again, but the rest of the guys, it’s five out of 10 with the ball, giving the opposition 30 runs too many.
“And then the same again with the bat. We’d get a partnership going then a wicket, build again then a wicket. I feel I’m saying the same thing again and again, and that’s very frustrating. The guys are playing with low confidence and that means they are making mistakes.
“It chips away at you, trying very hard then coming and playing another game and the same thing happens again. It does, it chips away at your confidence, ego, you as a player.
“The frustrating thing for us right now is that we have more people going through lows than highs. So confidence is low.”
South Africa’s hopes of reaching the World Cup semi-finals are over as their nightmare tournament continued with a 49-run defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s.
The returning Haris Sohail spanked a 59-ball 89 Pakistan posted a challenging 308-7. In the chase, disciplined Paistan bowling restricted the Proteas to just 259-9.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz took three wickets each while left-arm seamer Mohammad Amir continued his excellent form with 2-49.
The Proteas have failed to pass the group stages for just the second time and face two dead rubbers over the next two weeks.
South Africa failed to reach the knockout rounds as hosts in 2003, but still won three of their six encounters.
Head coach Ottis Gibson’s men have only beaten minnows Afghanistan at this tournament, and still have to face Sri Lanka and Australia.
Even three wins in nine matches would not gloss a woeful campaign, but given the Proteas’ dire form the chance of consolation victories appears remote.
Former England bowling coach Gibson’s contract expires after this tournament and is unlikely to be renewed. Faf Du Plessis may well relinquish the captaincy too.
Du Plessis hit 64 as South Africa managed just 259-9, failing to reach the 309 required for victory.
Haris Sohail’s 89, including a 71-run partnership with Imad Wasim from just 40 balls, ultimately proved the difference between the sides. Pakistan’s 308-7 proved more than sufficient, as Babar Azam posted 69 and openers Imam Ul Haq and Fakhar Zaman both notched 44.
Imran Tahir proved the pick of the Proteas’ bowlers, taking a smart two wickets for 41 runs. Lungi Ngidi ended on 3-64 but those figures were massaged by two soft dismissals at the death.
Teams with odd points.— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) June 23, 2019
IND and NZ are almost through. South Africa will be out. WI and BD can not go above Pakistan if PAK win the next three games (which means 11 points). So, Pakistan can qualify without worrying about Net Run Rate. #CWC19
Markram’s removal of Mohammed Hafeez raised questions as to whether South Africa should have put more faith in spin sooner in this tournament.
If the Proteas’ injury-hit pace attack has proved problematic though, their batting has been little short of abject. Wahab Riaz plundered 3-46 and Mohammad Amir 2-49, with Wahab bending his back and beating the Proteas for pace.
Rarely has a South Africa side suffered for such a lack of top-order aggression, and that cost Du Plessis and company dearly once again.