Cricket World Cup: Latest loss leaves England on brink of exit
At the halfway stage England would have had some confidence of beating Sri Lanka in their Pool A clash in Wellington.
They had posted 309-6 in their 50 overs thanks largely to the efforts of Joe Root, who scored his fourth ODI hundred.
Only twice had the 300-mark been passed in 24 previous ODIs at the ground. Angelo Mathews’ side would have to work hard to knock off the target, Eoin Morgan must have thought.
In reality, Sri Lanka strolled to success on a good batting pitch, losing just one wicket in their chase and claiming victory with 16 balls to spare.
Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara both registered tons – the latter scoring his second in as many World Cup innings – to leave Morgan’s mob requiring wins from their final two group games to seal qualification to the quarter finals.
At the moment, with England rarely capable of putting in a complete performance in all areas of the game, matches against Bangladesh and Afghanistan do not look like the easiest of tasks to navigate.
In Wellington, impressive batting was followed by abject bowling and comical fielding. The pace attack looked unthreatening and monotonous, while catches were dropped and run outs missed.
Thirimanne, who ended unbeaten on 139, was put down twice in his innings and later confessed that England had made it easy for him in the middle. Such a soft performance cannot be repeated if England are to progress in the competition.
Even if the necessary two wins are achieved, it will surely only result in one more match being played, with a quarter final against the likes of South Africa or India only likely to end in further humiliation.
Changes need to be made for the final two games. Chris Jordan and James Tredwell deserve a chance with the ball, while Gary Ballance is out of form with the bat and must be replaced.
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