Opener Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama formed a superb, unbroken partnership of 137 runs for the third wicket to guide Sri Lanka to an 8-wicket win over defending champions England with 146 balls to spare in their Cricket World Cup match played at the Chinnaswamy Cricket Stadium in Bangalore yesterday.
Sri Lanka, led by Kusal Mendis, outclassed the English team in all three departments. The English side was bowled out for 156 in just 33.2 overs. Sri Lanka chased down the target in only 25.4 overs and scored 160/2. After Kusal Janith Perera was dismissed early (scoring 4 in 5 balls) in the second over, skipper Kusal Mendis also played an irresponsible stroke, getting out after scoring only 11 runs in the sixth over, with paceman David Willy taking both early wickets. However, in-form batter Sadeera Samarawickrama and Pathum Nissanka put on a remarkable unbroken partnership to seal the victory in the 26th over.
Nissanka scored 77 in 83 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes including a winning six off Adel Rashid. Samarawickrama hit 65 from 54 balls with 7 fours and a six. Lahiru Kumara was named the Man of the Match.
English’s captain, Jos Buttler won the toss and opted to bat on the Bangalore wicket. This decision did not prove favourable for them, as their top-order struggled. The Sri Lanka team displayed a determined spirit with their bowling and fielding standing out throughout the innings, putting immense pressure on England.
Openers Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan attempted to establish a strong start. Malan adopted a more aggressive approach, scoring three boundaries off Kasun Rajitha. Young Dilshan Madushanka bowled confidently from the other end to avoid runs. Experienced Angelo Mathews entered the attack in the 7th over which provided a crucial breakthrough when he claimed Malan’s wicket with a fine catch by wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis after a 45-run opening partnership.
England’s most experienced batsman, Joe Root, usually exhibits confidence when facing spinners but Sri Lanka fielders didn’t give much time to Root, and Mathews executed a good throw from the backward square leg position to get an easy run-out, causing Root and Bairstow to make a costly mistake. The dismissal occurred in the 10th over, leaving England at 57 for 2 wickets at the end of the first Power Play.
Opener Jonny Bairstow made a quick 30 from 31 balls, including 3 fours. He tried to accelerate the total but was caught out by Dhananjaya de Silva at mid-on off the bowling of Kasun Rajitha, with England at 68 for 3 in 13.2 overs. Skipper Jos Buttler couldn’t stay long, departing after scoring only 8 in 6 balls. Kusal Mendis took a spectacular catch off paceman Lahiru Kumara who replaced spinner Dushan Hementha.
All-rounder Ben Stokes was the most successful English batsman, scoring 43 but facing 73 balls and striking six fours. None of the other English batsmen provided significant support in building a substantial innings.
Moeen Ali and David Willy managed to reach double figures with 15 and 14, respectively. Their approach with the bat was relatively passive in terms of scoring runs and Sri Lankan bowlers consistently kept the pressure on England.
Angelo Mathews the experienced all-rounder took a wicket in his first over of the spell when he dismissed Malan. In his second spell, he sent Moeen Ali back to the pavilion.
Lahiru Kumara, who was not in good form against Australia was once again recalled for this game, as he demonstrated greater potential, picking up three wickets during his 7-over spell while conceding 35 runs. Kasun Rajitha captured 2 for 36, and Mathews had more economical figures, bowling 5 overs with a one maiden giving away 14 runs to pick two wickets.
The Sri Lanka team made two changes bringing in Angelo Mathews for Chamika Karunaratne and bolstering the pace bowling attack by adding Lahiru Kumara in place of spinner Dushan Hementha.