Sri Lanka Upset England in 2019 Cricket World Cup

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2019

England's captain Eoin Morgan plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between England and Sri Lanka at Headingley in Leeds, northern England, on June 21, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Sri Lanka (232 for nine) caused the biggest upset of the 2019 Cricket World Cup so far on Friday, beating hosts England (212) by 20 runs to blow the race for the semi-finals wide open.

England came into the match with just a single loss and were expected to cruise past the Islanders, but their batsmen had no answers for the Sri Lankan bowlers. Lasith Malinga (10 overs, 43 runs) stole the show by taking four wickets.

The hosts' next three matches will be against fellow tournament favourites Australia, India and New Zealand.

Those four teams are in a position to qualify for the semi-finals, but England's are far from safe after Friday's shock loss:

Manak Gupta @manakgupta

Loss to Pakistan. Now facing humiliation by Sri Lanka. With tougher opponents Ind, Aus, NZ ahead, England’s World Cup campaign is in shambles #ENGvSL

England made a fast start with the ball after losing the toss, dismissing Sri Lanka's openers for just three combined runs.

Dimuth Karunaratne lost his wicket in the second over, scoring just a single run, and Kusal Perera fell shortly after, scoring two from six.

The loss of those two so early spelled trouble, as the partnership had been among the tournament's most prolific coming into the match:

William Hill @WilliamHill

Highest scoring partnerships #CWC2019: 🇦🇺 443 - Finch/Warner 🇧🇩 248 - Al Hasan/Mushfiqur 🇮🇳 221 - Sharma/Rahul 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 215 - Bairstow/Root 🇱🇰 207 - Karunaratne/Perera #AUSvBAN https://t.co/kxIzV8qo39

The Islanders soon started to find some momentum with the bat. Avishka Fernando (49 from 39) and Kusal Mendis (46 from 68) steadily added to the total, and star batsman Angelo Mathews finally woke up from his tournament-long slump.

Mathews scored 85 from 115 not out, accounting for more than a third of Sri Lanka's total score.

While it was a slow knock and it still left the Islanders' bowlers with lots of work to do, it was a major improvement on his previous work:

Sam Landsberger 🗯 @SamLandsberger

ANGELO MATHEWS 0 (9) vs New Zealand 0 (2) vs Afghanistan 9 (11) vs Australia 3/9 (22 balls). Not a great #CWC19.

Jofra Archer and Mark Wood both took three wickets for England, who needed 233 to win.

Sri Lanka's bowlers made an even better start than their English counterparts, as Malinga bowled Jonny Bairstow on the first ball he faced.

That was the start of a great spell for the Islanders:

CricketNDTV @CricketNDTV

World Cup 2019: In last 5 overs England have scored just 20 runs and lost the wicket of Eoin Morgan #ENGvSL #CWC19 #WorldCup #WorldCup19 #WorldCup2019 LIVE SCORECARD: https://t.co/RIAvHpIxug LIVE UPDATES: https://t.co/7zjwqCCkOv

James Vince (14 from 18) and Eoin Morgan (21 from 35) never truly found their groove and fell victim to Sri Lanka's aggressive bowling before 20 overs had been played, while Joe Root's half-century came at a low strike rate, comparable to Mathews' knock.

At the midway point of the chase, England's run rate sat well below 4.00, and the required rate was climbing.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan started to worry:

Michael Vaughan @MichaelVaughan

Slightly nervous .. !!!

Malinga got the wicket of Root (57 from 89) in the 31st over in another massive blow for the hosts.

He made history with the wicket:

Cricket World Cup @cricketworldcup

A huge moment. Lasith Malinga becomes the fourth man to take 50 World Cup wickets! And what a wicket this is – the dangerman Root departs for 57. #CWC19 | #ENGvSL https://t.co/JMv7WIOR5C

And the 35-year-old continued his superb play by taking the wicket of his replacement, Jos Buttler, as well. Crucially, Buttler (10 from nine) burned England's review challenging the call of leg before wicket, adding even more hope Sri Lanka could spring the upset.

England needed 57 from the final 10 overs, and a superb spell from Dhananjaya de Silva in the 41st had fans fearing the worst. He got rid of both Chris Woakes (two from four) and Adil Rashid (one from two) to put the Islanders on the verge of an unlikely win.

Back-to-back sixes from Ben Stokes (82 from 89) to start the 46th set up a thrilling finale, in which England couldn't lose a single wicket. Stokes did plenty of damage, but Wood (zero from four) was edged on the final delivery of the next over, handing Sri Lanka a famous win.