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CWC 2019 – England v Sri Lanka: 5 key talking points

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Last Updated on 5 years by Charbel Coorey

England v Sri Lanka: 5 key talking points. ENG vs SL: 5 key talking points from their 2019 World Cup match.

Instead of boasting further about handing England the World Cup now, Kevin Pietersen found himself engaged in a battle he didn’t expect. Like England.

‘KP’ and from New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris went at it in some great banter on Twitter. Sri Lanka well and truly made this World Cup interesting. A remarkable 20-run win was a victory very few could have expected, apart from the most passionate Sri Lankan fans who held hope that they could stay in the Semi Finals race. It was great to see.

Sri Lanka were outstanding with the ball. They kept the pressure on, testing England’s bottle in a run chase that didn’t seem too difficult in the innings break. All of a sudden, England’s progression to the Semi Finals is far from assured, with Sri Lanka putting themselves right in the conversation.

Here are five key talking points from the upset of the tournament so far.

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1. Lasith Malinga turns back the clock

Lasith Malinga, for the second time in the tournament, headed back home as a result of his mother-in-law’s sad passing. He made himself available again, putting on a display that reminded us just how good he has been over the years, as well as the character he possesses.

And wasn’t this a display of character. Before the Afghanistan game, he had strong words for his teammates. He wanted accountability. Responsibility. The ability to learn from mistakes. Here, he took things in his own hands, delivering arguably the best spell of CWC 2019 so far to consign England to a defeat no one could have seen coming. It started with Jonny Bairstow out first ball, and he kept mesmerizing the England batsmen with magnificent variations en route to 4/43 – a spell that will be remembered for many a time to come.

England v Sri Lanka: 5 key talking points. ENG vs SL: 5 key talking points from their 2019 World Cup match.
Image: Reuters. England v Sri Lanka 5 key talking points: Malinga was superb.

2. Angelo Mathews: selfish or saviour?

It had been a really difficult tournament for Angelo Mathews heading into this game. Scores of 0,0 and 9 created further doubts of his ability to provide impact for Sri Lanka.

Here, he still couldn’t escape the criticism. His 85* off 115 balls came in for scrutiny on social media and pundits, given that his strike rate was not high enough to propel Sri Lanka to a higher total. “Selfish” was the term used.

However, if it wasn’t for Mathews, Sri Lanka would have been bundled out for a much lower score. Yes, he could have upped the ante a little more towards the back end of the innings, but Sri Lanka were in such trouble that Mathews’ performance should be highlighted as one that gave Sri Lanka a chance. Jeevan Mendis’ soft chip back to Adil Rashid to leave them reeling at 133/5 could have spelt the end for the Lions. However, Mathews held on to give them something to bowl at.

It didn’t seem like much of a total, but it proved enough in the end.

England v Sri Lanka: 5 key talking points. ENG vs SL: 5 key talking points from their 2019 World Cup match.
Image: Reuters. England v Sri Lanka 5 key talking points: Mathews helped give SL a chance.

Also read: India vs Afghanistan CWC 2019 Preview Dream11 Prediction

3. Adjustment to the situation a problem for England

For all the good performances England have enjoyed over the past four years, there has been the accident waiting to happen. It happened in the West Indies earlier this year. They were upset by Pakistan earlier in the tournament, preceding a loss here that not many could have predicted at the innings break.

Sri Lanka were a team possessed. They gave it their all, bowling with such an intensity that England had to dig really deep to get out of this. Indeed, this is exactly the kind of intensity and pressure you can expect in a knockout game. But, England fell badly, unable to curb their natural instincts in a time of need to pick up what could prove to be a crucial result in the race for the top four.

Joe Root and Ben Stokes were strong, but more was needed from the top and middle order batsmen in a pressure situation. This could very well be the wake up call England need, because if the same mistakes occur in a knockout game, it’s lights out.

Download: Making cricket an interactive experience! Discover Harrison Cricket Apps ODI version. For full screenshots, click here.

4. Mark Wood is bowling beautifully

England’s bowling was a concern heading into this World Cup. Could they win a big tournament with a bowling attack that concedes big scores on a regular basis?

However, England’s bowling has been pretty solid for the most part in CWC 2019. Sure, big tests await against England, Australia and New Zealand, but Jofra Archer and Mark Wood have been excellent. There was plenty of hype around Archer, who sits equal top of the wicket-takers list, but Wood has been very good in comparison to his career record to date.

Wood entered the tournament with a bowling average in excess of 40 in as many games. His CWC 2019 campaign to date has been a significant improvement, cranking up the pace en route to 12 wickets in five matches at just 16.71. If Wood continues to fire, he will give England the extra quality they need in the big games.

England v Sri Lanka: 5 key talking points. ENG vs SL: 5 key talking points from their 2019 World Cup match.
Image: ICC. England v Sri Lanka 5 key talking points – Mark Wood is in fine form.

5. England’s passage to the Semi Finals not clear

England have been widely tipped to go all the way. After all, they have been the most consistent ODI side over the past four years, sitting atop the rankings. It is unfathomable to think they could miss out on the Semi Finals. It would certainly be one of the biggest talking points in World Cup history.

Of course, England qualifying for the Semi Finals is still very much possible. In fact, they should still be favoured to do so given their quality. However they will have to do things the hard way from here on in. Australia, India and New Zealand remain for Eoin Morgan’s men in the group stages, and they may need to win at least two of those to be assured a spot in the Semi Finals.

Their two main challengers are Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Bangladesh play Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in their final three games, where they can really fancy their chances in at least two of those matches. Sri Lanka play India, West Indies and South Africa in three games where they can also consider themselves a good chance in two of them.

If England lose to Australia next up and both Bangladesh (vs Afghanistan) and Sri Lanka (vs South Africa) win, Sri Lanka will be level with England with Bangladesh just one point behind. There is now little room for error thanks to this result, and it promises to make for intriguing viewing.

Thanks for reading!

Download: Making cricket an interactive experience! Discover Harrison Cricket Apps ODI version. For full screenshots, click here.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. He is also a keen fantasy sports player. Charbel has also had the privilege of interviewing cricketers on the CricBlog TV YouTube channel, including James Neesham, Rassie van der Dussen, Andrew Tye, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat and Saurabh Netravalkar: https://www.youtube.com/@cricblogtv For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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