New Delhi: Sri Lanka pulled off a sensational upset by defeating the defending champions England by 8 wickets in the 25th match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. The match was a must-win for both teams, as they were struggling to stay alive in the tournament. Sri Lanka bowled out England for a paltry 156 runs and then chased down the target with ease, thanks to unbeaten half-centuries from openers Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarwickrma. This was Sri Lanka’s second win in five matches, while England suffered their fourth loss in six games. With this result, Sri Lanka moved up to the fifth spot in the points table, while England slipped to the ninth position.
England’s batting collapse
England won the toss and opted to bat first, hoping to put up a big score on the board. However, they were soon in trouble as Sri Lanka’s bowlers exploited the conditions well and kept them on the back foot. Dawid Malan (28) and Jonny Bairstow (30) gave England a brisk start by adding 45 runs for the first wicket, but their partnership was broken by Angelo Mathews, who had Malan caught behind by Kusal Mendis. Joe Root (03) was run out by a direct hit from Dhananjaya de Silva, while captain Jos Buttler (08) edged a delivery from Lahiru Kumara to Mendis.
Bairstow also departed soon after, as he mistimed a shot off Kasun Rajita and gave a simple catch to de Silva at mid-on. Liam Livingstone (01) was trapped lbw by Kumara, while Moeen Ali (15) chopped a ball from Mathews onto his stumps. England were reduced to 85 for 6 and were in danger of being bowled out for under 100.
Ben Stokes (43) was the only batsman who showed some resistance and tried to rebuild the innings. He got a reprieve when he was dropped by Samarawickrama on 12. He made use of the opportunity and hit some boundaries to keep the scoreboard ticking. He was eventually caught on the boundary by Kumara off Rajita, after which England’s tail could not offer much support. David Willey (14 not out) was the only other batsman to reach double figures, as England were all out for 156 in 33.2 overs. Kumara was the pick of the bowlers for Sri Lanka, taking 3 wickets for 35 runs, while Mathews and Rajita claimed two wickets each.
Sri Lanka’s smooth chase
Sri Lanka had a modest target to chase and they did it with utmost ease and confidence. They lost Kusal Perera (06) and Kusal Mendis (04) early, as they were dismissed by Willey and Mark Wood respectively. However, that was the only success that England had in the field, as Nissanka and Samarawickrama took charge of the chase and dominated the bowling attack.
Nissanka scored his fourth consecutive half-century in the tournament, playing a composed knock of 77 not out off 79 balls. He hit nine fours and a six in his innings and anchored the chase till the end. Samarawickrama played an aggressive knock of 65 not out off 45 balls, smashing eight fours and three sixes. He matched Nissanka stroke for stroke and accelerated the scoring rate. The duo added an unbeaten partnership of 137 runs for the third wicket and took Sri Lanka home with 24.2 overs to spare.
England’s bowling woes
England’s bowlers had no answers to the onslaught from Nissanka and Samarawickrama, as they failed to create any pressure or chances. Willey and Wood took a wicket each, but they were also expensive, conceding 38 and 40 runs respectively. Stokes, Livingstone, Ali, and Adil Rashid could not make any impact with their bowling, as they went wicketless and leaked runs at over six runs per over. England’s fielding was also sloppy, as they missed some catches and run-out opportunities.
England’s semi-final hopes dashed
This defeat has virtually ended England’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup, as they have only two matches left against Afghanistan and Bangladesh. They will need to win both their games convincingly and hope that other results go in their favor to have any chance of qualifying for the knockouts. England has been disappointing in this tournament, losing to India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s semi-final hopes alive
This victory has kept Sri Lanka’s hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive, as they have three matches left against West Indies, Ireland, and South Africa. They will need to win all their games and improve their net run rate to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the knockouts. Sri Lanka has been impressive in this tournament, beating India and England, and giving a tough fight to Australia and Pakistan.