Sri Lanka inflicted England’s third crushing defeat by a Test nation at this World Cup with a nine-wicket win on Sunday that left their opponents’ quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread as Pakistan looked to revive their bid for a place in the last eight.
Chasing 310 for victory, Sri Lanka cruised to a seemingly stiff target with 16 balls to spare as Lahiru Thirimanne, who ended the match with a six off Chris Woakes to be 139 not out, and Kumar Sangakkara (117 not out) shared an unbroken partnership of 212 for the second wicket in Wellington.
The 37-year-old Sangakkara went to three figures off 70 balls, including ten fours and two sixes.
It was the quickest of all the veteran left-hander’s 23 one-day international hundreds and was his second in as many matches after he marked his 400th ODI with an unbeaten 105 against Bangladesh.
Yet Sangakkara insisted he still planned to retire from white-ball cricket after the World Cup as he was “getting old”.
“Everything I tried came off. But the openers had a great start and that was an exceptional innings by Thirimanne,” he said after a win that left 1996 champions Sri Lanka, losing finalists at the last two World Cups, on course for the quarter-finals.
England opened this World Cup with a 111-run loss to Australia before suffering an even more humiliating eight-wicket defeat by New Zealand, the other tournament co-hosts.
What made Sunday’s result all the worse was that they posted a decent total of 309 for six, with the 24-year-old Joe Root becoming the youngest England batsman to score a World Cup century on his way to 121.
However, Root had made just two when he was dropped by in the slips by Mahela Jayawardene off Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews.
But it was a dropped slip catch by Root that proved more important in the context of the game when he floored a chance given by Thirimanne, on three, off Stuart Broad although the blame for the error lay with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who shaped to go for the chance before pulling out late.
England were unable to gain much swing on a ground where New Zealand’s Tim Southee had taken seven for 33 against them last week when they were skittled out for just 123.
England’s battery of right-arm seamers once again formed an all-too predictable attack with the senior duo of Broad and James Anderson seeing their combined 18 wicketless overs cost 115 runs.
“At ‘half-time’ we went in thinking we had a more than par score,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “Joe Root was exceptional.”
However, Morgan didn’t spare his bowlers.
“We were way off the mark. When we are bowling well, it’s a good attack but you can pick it apart when we’re not bowling well and today we didn’t bowl well.”