Chasing 232 was not going to be a tough one for the hosts of this World Cup 2019. Eoin Morgan’s England is one of the favorites in this tournament and Sri Lanka, on the contrary, is one of the ‘easy’ contenders. Today’s Sri Lanka are one forgetful team bearing a rich history of golden days, But England lost.
The Story of Sri Lanka in World Cup 2019
Sri Lanka out of the five matches they had played before England match, won only one and that too against the newcomer Afghanistan. They had faced loses against New Zealand and Australia and was expected to lose against England as well.
Sri Lanka could put a decent score of 232 against England. Opting to bat first Sri Lanka didn’t have a great start and they lost both openers for just three runs.
Avishka Fernando added a quickfire 49 off 39 to provide some momentum and run flow. Kusal Mendis (46 off 68) and Angelo Mathews added 71 runs together for the fourth wicket and this was the key point of Sri Lanka innings.
Once Mendis was gone, Angelo Mathews took the entire responsibility and remained till the end to produce 85 off 115. He was the reason that Sri Lanka could finally end with 232/9.
Dhananjaya de Silva was instrumental with 47-ball 29. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood took three wickets each while Adil Rashid managed two to restrict Sri Lankan batters.
In response, England batting line up almost entirely collapsed. They started off with a golden duck from Jonny Bairstow. James Vince was gone for 14 while Eoin Morgan could score just 21.
Joe Root scored 57 off 89 and provided support to the impeccable Ben Stokes. Stokes remained unbeaten on 82 off 89 and tried to pull off on his own.
But he didn’t get necessary support as others failed to convert the good starts to match winning innings. England finally were all out for 212 runs in 47 overs.
Among the previous five matches played by England, four were high scoring ones. 300+ score became regular sight once English batsmen out on the batting-friendly field.
But it was one man who restricted the star-studded England team from chasing down 232. Lasith Malinga, a living legend of Sri Lanka who is still keeping the dreams alive for his team.
Malinga was on rhythm from the very beginning. He pinned Bairstow in front of the wicket for zero and gave the glimpse of what was in store. In his fourth over he got another opener, Vince caught by Kusal Mendis.
When the pair of Root and Stokes was threatening to take the match away the veteran came back to give a breakthrough. He first got Joe Root caught behind and then got the dangerous Jos Buttler leg before wicket as his fourth prey.
The senior most pro finished his spell with 10-1-43-4. In the process, he became the quickest bowler to take 50 World Cup wickets in just 26 matches. Sri Lanka came with zero chance in this tournament and now has all the opportunities to make it to the top four, thanks to Malinga.
The guy had retired from last year IPL citing the reason for fitness. This year he joined Mumbai Indians again and became one of the reasons of their 4th title triumph with 16 wickets from 12 innings.
He had to travel between India and Sri Lanka to get featured both in IPL and Sri Lanka’s domestic league. But nothing could really stop him from delivering the best.
Even a few days back during World Cup 2019 Malinga had to fly to Sri Lanka following his mother-in-law’s death. He had the option of staying back according to his captain Dimuth Karunaratne.
But if there is anyone in this team who can make this work for Sri Lanka, it has to be him. Probably nobody but Malinga knows this better anyone else. He came back to rejoin his team and now is giving all to make it count.
The 35-old pacer is probably playing his last World Cup 2019; in fact, this is probably going to be his last international tournament. No wonder he will put extra effort to make this a memorable affair. Even if fitness was a concern ever, an in-form Malinga has the ability to pass every hurdle.
The key point is that the man himself is aware of his capability, his issues; and this is a major positive for Sri Lanka. His experience and the way he is leading the bowling pack of Sri Lanka, the team seem to be ready to deliver more upsets now.