Defending champions England are all but mathematically out of the Cricket World Cup as Sri Lanka cruised to an emphatic eight-wicket victory in Bangalore.
Jonny Bairstow (30) and Dawid Malan (28) put on a 45-run opening stand after England won the toss and elected to bat, only for a flurry of wickets to see Jos Buttler’s side dismissed for just 156 inside 33.2 overs in Bangalore.
Ben Stokes top-scored with 43 in an innings where six players failed to reach double figures, as Lahiru Kumara (3-35), the returning Angelo Mathews (2-14) and Kasun Rajitha (2-36) helped bowl out England for their lowest total of an already disappointing tournament.
David Willey (2-30) took two early wickets to briefly raise England’s hopes, before Pathum Nissanka (77 not out) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (65no) fired an unbroken 137-run partnership for the third wicket to guide Sri Lanka to an emphatic victory in the 26th over.
England have yet to be officially eliminated from the competition, despite registering just two points from five matches and being joint-bottom of the table, although would need to win all four of their remaining matches and for several other results to go in their favour if they are to have any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
How Sri Lanka put England on the brink
England – making three changes from their record-breaking loss to South Africa – were fortunate not to lose a wicket from the opening delivery when Sri Lanka decided against reviewing a Madushanka yorker that hit Bairstow’s pad first, with replays showing it would have gone on to clatter leg stump.
Bairstow and Dawid Malan negotiated a moving new ball to put on 45 for the opening wicket, including 15 from one Rajitha over as they scored quickly on a fast outfield, only for Angelo Mathews to make the breakthrough in his first ODI bowling spell since March 2020.
Mathews needed just three balls to have Malan (28) caught behind after a successful review, with England suffering another setback in the 10th over when a huge mix-up saw Joe Root (three) sent back by Bairstow when chasing a risky single and being run out trying to dive back into his crease.
Stokes almost chipped one to extra cover as he struggled for rhythm early in his innings, while Bairstow (30) hacked a length ball from Rajitha to leave a simple take at mid-on and captain Jos Buttler (eight) fell to a superb Mendis catch off Kumara to leave England languishing at 77-4.
Livingstone (one) lasted just six balls until he was trapped lbw by Kumara, with his immediate review unsuccessful, while Moeen Ali (15) offered some brief respite with a 37-run stand for the sixth wicket until a loose shot presented a routine catch at backward point.
Samarawickrama produced a brilliant diving catch at point to dismiss Woakes off Rajitha without scoring, with Stokes’ one-man charge and boundary burst ended when he picked out the sub fielder at deep mid-wicket.
Sharp work from Mendis saw Rashid (two) run out at the non-striker’s end, having seen the England batter backing up out of his crease, before the Sri Lanka keeper wrapped up the innings with a stumping off Theekshana after Wood (five) danced down the wicket.
Willey got England off to a strong start when a leading edge from Perera (four) looped up to Stokes at mid-off, while Mendis almost fell with the next ball as his nick just evaded Root at slip and raced for a boundary.
Mendis (11) top-edged Willey and left a ballooning catch for Buttler behind the stumps, leaving Sri Lanka 23-2, before Nissanka and Samarawickrama confidently made chanceless half-centuries to push them towards their victory target.
Sri Lanka breezed past the 100 mark in the 17th over and brought up their century stand four overs later, before Nissanka secured victory in style as he blasted Rashid for a huge six with the fourth ball of the 26th over.
Victory moves Sri Lanka to four points and fifth in the standings, with the top four at the end of the round-robin campaign reaching the semi-finals, while England drop one place to ninth in the 10-team table and see their net run rate – which could determine qualification – worsen to -1.63.
Buttler: ‘No clear answer’ to England’s struggles
England captain Jos Buttler: “We’ve not just been short of our best, but by a very long way. As captain, you feel that a lot. I’m disappointed for myself and all of the boys that we’ve not given a good account of ourselves.
“There is no clear answer [to the struggles] at the moment. If there was one golden nugget that we were obviously not doing then we would try to pick that up. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts, we’re just playing a long way short of our best.”
Former England captain Nasser Hussain, speaking to Sky Sports: “Ravi Shastri uses the right word there, ‘outplayed’. I’d add another word in there – completely outplayed with bat, with ball and in the field.
“Jos Buttler can have no complaints. Won a toss, this time he decided, ‘we’ll have a bat’ and the batting let him down again, 156 all out. That’s three massive losses, now four if you include Afghanistan.”
The Cricket World Cup continues Friday, as Pakistan face South Africa (9am on Sky Sports Cricket, 9.30am start), before a double-header on Saturday sees Australia take on New Zealand (5.30am on Sky Sports Cricket, 6am start) and the Netherlands play Bangladesh (9am on Sky Sports Mix, 9.30am start).
England are next in action against hosts India on Sunday (8am on Sky Sports Cricket, 8.30am start), with their qualification hopes in the balance. Sri Lanka are next in action on Monday and can boost their semi-final hopes against Afghanistan (8am on Sky Sports Cricket, 8.30am start). Stream the Cricket World Cup and more top sport with NOW.