A contender for game of the Cricket World Cup has seen Sri Lanka come away with a thrilling 20-run upset win over England at Headingley.
Sri Lanka didn’t appear to have nearly enough on the board, but near-perfect execution of their bowling and fielding plan on a pitch which appeared two-paced, as well as some silly shots from the English middle order, got them over the line.
It was Lasith Malinga who was the star of the show, as he picked up four wickets and left England on the back foot late in the innings.
Earlier, Sri Lanka had won the toss and elected to bat on a deceptively good-looking pitch.
England bowled well early and had Sri Lanka two down for only four runs after just three overs, with the pressure on. Avishka Fernando and Kusal Mendis led the recovery though as they put 59 for the third wicket, with Fernando looking in great form.
His wicket brought Angelo Mathews to the crease, who managed to hold the innings together, despite the strong middle overs bowling from spin duo Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
It was clear that scoring quickly was going to be difficult, with Mathews mistiming just about everything during his long stay, ultimately ending up 85 not out.
The former Sri Lankan skipper’s knock, alongside those of Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva, got Sri Lanka to what looked like a very under-par 232.
It was clear the Sri Lankans were going to need to bowl England out, and they couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as Jonny Bairstow was removed in the first over by Malinga.
The men from the sub-continent had another shortly afterwards as James Vince departed, but Joe Root steadied the ship as he pieced together slow-moving but effective 47 and 54-run partnerships with Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes respectively.
Still, when Root got out, England were a long way from out of the woods, with Malinga’s reintroduction for a second spell enough to get rid of the Test skipper for 57 from 89 balls.
England were still in front of the match, but losing the wickets of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali cheaply to Isuru Udana and Dhananjaya de Silva respectively put them in strife at 6/170.
Moeen’s wicket, in particular, was a shocker, given he had only just hit a six and England needed under six runs per over at that stage.
Chris Woakes came and went against the bowling of Dhananjaya, as did Adil Rashid, before Jofra Archer provided the foil for Stokes, but was eventually caught at long off to the bowling of Udana.
It left Mark Wood to team up with Stokes, and the duo needed to put on 47 from 38 balls to win the game.
While they managed to see off Lasith Malinga, it was all on Stokes to score the runs, and after belting Udana for 14 one over and nine from the 47th, he turned the strike over to Mark Wood for a single ball, but that was all it took as Pradeep caught the outside edge to complete a famous victory for the Sri Lankans.
The result keeps Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive, while England are left with two losses to their name and only the three other sides in the top four to play, putting them under some pressure during the back half of the tournament.
Sri Lanka: 9/232 (50) (Angelo Mathews 85, Avishka Fernando 49, Kusal Mendis 46, Mark Wood 3/40, Jofra Archer 3/42) defeat England 10/212 (47) (Ben Stokes 82*, Joe Root 57, Lasith Malinga 4/43, Dhananjaya de Silva 3/32) by 20 runs.