England were looking nearly invincible in the ongoing World Cup. Barring the narrow defeat against Pakistan early in the competition, everything was falling into place for the Eoin Morgan-led side. They were scoring 300-plus totals at will and restricting the oppositions to modest totals to prove their title credentials.
Not surprisingly, they were being tipped to beat Sri Lanka easily on Friday. The cricketing world was expecting that England would beat Sri Lanka, return to the top of the points table and take a big step towards the semifinal. However, England have now landed in a precarious position after losing the low-scoring thriller by 20 runs.
The game started on a good note for England as they reduced Sri Lanka to 3 for 2. Sri Lanka eventually huffed and puffed to a respectable 232 for 9 thanks to an unbeaten 85 from Angelo Mathews. When Sri Lanka ended their innings, it seemed England would chase down the total without breaking any sweat. However, Sri Lanka stunned one and all by bowling out their fancied opponents for 212.
Malinga struck second ball to remove Jonny Bairstow and accounted for the injured Jason Roy’s replacement, James Vince, for 14. He later accounted for Joe Root and Jos Buttler to put his side well on top. Nuwan Pradeep ended the proceedings by dismissing Mark Wood on the last ball of the 47th over.
With the defeat, England are now in a very delicate position. In fact, they can also exit the competition at the group stage. In their last three games, they will take on defending champions Australia, India and New Zealand. Australia are currently at the top of the points table while India and New Zealand have not lost any game this World Cup.
To put the degree of difficulty in context, England has not beaten Australia, India or New Zealand at a World Cup since 1992. England have enjoyed success against India, Australia and New Zealand in recent times but the World Cup stage is a different one and their losses against Pakistan and Sri Lanka showed it. England are currently third in the table with 8 points. In case, they lose all their remaining games they can very well exit the competition at the group stage.