England’s excruciating World Cup defence is all but over after yet another shambolic defeat, this time against a Sri Lanka side led by their former head coach Chris Silverwood.
The 2019 champions turned in a meek, error-strewn performance with the bat, blown away for just 156 in Bengaluru, and barely fared any better with the ball as their opponents breezed home by eight wickets in Bengaluru on Thursday.
Summing up the latest disastrous loss was Adil Rashid’s shambolic run out to leave England nine down, the tailender caught napping at the non-striker’s end as Sri Lankan captain and wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis threw down the stumps after a take down the leg side.
Jos Buttler’s side have now lost four of their five games by heavy margins – beaten by New Zealand, Afghanistan, South Africa and now Sri Lanka – and can start booking an early trip home despite having four fixtures still to play in a torturous group stage.
There was an extra layer to their latest humbling given Silverwood’s presence in blue and gold. He served as England’s bowling coach when they lifted the trophy four years ago and was handpicked to take over the top job from Trevor Bayliss soon after.
But Silverwood was sacked after a dire Ashes campaign in 2021-22 and now, rather than guiding his country through this tournament as he once expected, he has effectively sealed their departure from it.
A scrappy 43 from Ben Stokes was the best England could muster and that was promptly put in perspective as Pathum Nissanka (77 not out) and Sadeera Samarawickrama (65no) peeled off an effortless century stand in response.
In all England used just 33.2 overs in the first innings and 25.4 in the second, a damning indictment on all fronts.
The day started with the latest confusing selection from England, who dropped rising star Harry Brook and rookie seamer Gus Atkinson as they fielded a side comprised entirely of thirty-somethings for the first time ever in ODI cricket.
It proved a thoroughly misguided decision from a team long past its peak. With a dominant, table-topping India up next in Lucknow, it is hard to see what they do next.
Things began with a brief burst of positivity, openers Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow taming the new ball sufficiently to take 45 from the first 39 deliveries, with nine boundaries.
But the growing optimism was shattered by the introduction of old foe Angelo Mathews, called up as an injury replacement just a couple of days ago and embarking on his first ODI spell in three-and-a-half years.
It took the 36-year-old just three deliveries to get back in the groove, Malan caught behind for 28 chasing a cutter.
Mathews was involved again in the crucial dismissal of Joe Root, who had just three to his name when he chopped to point and set off for a single, turning on his heels once Bairstow dug his in at the non-striker’s end.
Mathews picked up and threw in one swift movement, leaving Mendis to obliterate the stumps as Root dived in vain.
The errors kept coming, Bairstow reaching 30 before a cross-batted swat at Kasun Rajitha plonked straight to mid-on. Lahiru Kumara had Buttler flashing to slip and Liam Livingstone lbw.
Stokes went on the attack, despite struggling for timing, but lost two more partners as Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes spoon-fed catches to backward point.
When Stokes dragged a pull down deep-midwicket’s throat, England’s hopes died.
David Willey, who hit England’s only six of the innings, also started gamely with the ball, getting rid of Kusal Perera and the dangerous Mendis but Samarawickrama and Nissanka knocked off the runs in a composed manner.
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Nissanka sealed victory in style by slamming the expensive Rashid for a big six over long-on.