Sri Lanka inflicted England’s third crushing defeat by a Test nation at this World Cup with a nine-wicket win on Sunday while Pakistan got their campaign back on track with victory over Zimbabwe.
Chasing 310 to win, 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 10 fours and two sixes.
It was the quickest of all the veteran left-hander’s 23 one-day international hundreds and 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 quarterfinals.
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.
But Root experienced the other side of the game when he floored a slip chance given by Thirimanne, on three, off Stuart Broad although the blame 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 when they were skittled out for just 123 last week.
Broad and James Anderson, England’s senior bowlers, saw their combined 18 wicketless overs cost 115 runs.
‘Way off the mark’
“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’ feelings.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan got their World Cup campaign back on track Sunday when the 1992 champions downed Zimbabwe by 20 runs to claim their first win of the tournament.
Led by some patient batting from captain Mizbah-ul-Haq, who made 73, Pakistan recovered from losing their first two wickets for just four runs to post 235 for seven from their 50 overs.
Towering left arm paceman Mohammad Irfan then took full advantage of the lively Gabba wicket to claim the first three Zimbabwe scalps on his way to a career-best 4-30.
After posting what appeared to be a below par total, Irfan gave Pakistan the ideal start when he dismissed the two Zimbabwe openers in a lethal first spell.
The 2.16-metre tall Irfan troubled the Zimbabwe openers with his bounce, both Chamunorwa Chibhabha and Sikandar Raza guiding lifting balls to Haris Sohail at second slip.
Hamilton Masakadza (29) and Brendan Taylor saw off Irfan and settled the Zimbabwe innings, adding 52 runs without trouble.
However, Misbah brought Irfan back after 21 overs with immediate dividends, Masakadza skying an attempted pull shot to the captain at midwicket.
The in-form Sean Williams joined Taylor and the pair added 54 in quick time as Zimbabwe looked headed for victory.
But moments after reaching his 32nd ODI half century, Taylor attempted a leg glance only to get a tickle through to keeper Umar Akmal to leave the Zimbabweans 128-4, but still well in control.
However, when they lost Williams for 33 after he hit Rahat Ali straight to Ahmad Shahzad at backward point with the score on 150 the run chase began to fall away.
Irfan then had Solomon Mire caught behind to leave Zimbabwe 166-6, still 70 runs short of victory with 13 overs remaining.
Skipper Elton Chigumbura, who tore the quadriceps in his left leg while fielding, was clearly hampered with his running between the wickets and the required run rate began to climb steadily.
Craig Ervine (14) and Tawanda Mupawira both perished caught behind off Riaz with the score on 168 and despite a late flourish from Chigumbura (35), Zimbabwe struggled to lay bat to ball in the closing overs.
Earlier, Pakistan recovered from another terrible start to post a competitive 235-7, thanks largely to Misbah and a whirlwind 54 off 46 balls from Riaz.
Misbah strode to the crease with his side in desperate trouble at 4-2 at the end of the fourth over and was out 121 balls later in the 47th with Pakistan 202-7.
Riaz struck his maiden half century at the end of the innings to lift Pakistan, who struggled throughout their 50 overs against a spirited Zimbabwe attack. – AFP