Mooen Ali previews England’s Cricket World Cup clash with Sri Lanka
England’s defence of the Cricket World Cup in India is all-but over with four games still to play after yet another heavy defeat, this time to Sri Lanka. Their opponents won by a mammoth eight wickets in Bangalore, ensuring England’s wretched campaign continued.
In one of their worst World Cup performances for some time, England fell to an eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka, who were efficient with the bat as they ended up on 160-2.
England, meanwhile, were bowled out for 156 and the defeat all but mathematically confirms they will be heading home. Joe Root ran himself out for an nervy three, Jonny Bairstow clocked a total of 30 and captain Jos Buttler was caught behind for eight.
As ever, their 2019 World Cup saviour proved the best of a bad bunch as Ben Stokes registered 43 from 73 balls. But England’s innings lasted just 33.2 overs as the wickets fell all around him. It was their fifth successive World Cup defeat to Sri Lanka, a run that stretches all the way back to 2007.
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The defending champions still have a slim chance of fighting on, but they now must win all of their remaining games – including against unbeaten hosts India on Sunday – as well hoping for an unlikely set of results. The necessity of winning a match, given their current form, is enough of a stiff task.
England suffered humiliation in their World Cup opener against New Zealand and from there, their World Cup journey has taken a dark turn. Losses at the hands of Afghanistan and South Africa, with the latter featuring a 229-run deficit in the scoreline, left their hopes of progressing to the latter stages hanging in the balance.
But their defeat to Sri Lanka confirms their current campaign will be one of their worst performances at a World Cup in recent memory, having won only one of their five matches – a narrow victory over Bangladesh.
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England’s downcast skipper Buttler admitted their best efforts had fallen way short of expectations, including his own performances, and the 33-year-old was at a loss to explain their poor run of results.
“It’s incredibly tough, an incredibly disappointing tournament. As captain, you feel that a lot,” he told reporters. “We’ve been short of our best by a very long way. I’m disappointed for myself and the boys that we’ve not shown a good account of ourselves.
“That’s the question we’re trying to answer. There’s no clear answer. If there was one golden nugget that we’re not doing then we’d pick that up. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts, we’re just a long way short of our best.
“As captain, you want to lead from the front and play well. I’ve been a long way short of my best and that’s filtered through the rest.”
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