Before the start of the ICC World Cup 2019, hosts England were being considered as favourites by almost everyone and there was also a group that considered them as overwhelming favourites to win their maiden 50-overs title. However, halfway through the tournament, England have shown some big signs of boiling down under the pressure with four wins and two defeats in the six games played thus far. The first defeat that came against Pakistan when the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side posted a huge total on the board and England fell short by 14 runs.
But the 20-run loss suffered at the hands of Sri Lanka last night at the Headingley, Leeds on Friday (June 21) came at a very crucial phase and this has now opened the competition. The England fast bowling pair of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood delivered brilliantly well with the ball, but still Angelo Mathews also played a fine unbeaten innings to take Sri Lanka towards a fighting total.
In the second innings, the Lankan bowlers never looked like they were defending a pretty modest first innings total as they continued to pick up wickets at regular intervals. In the end, Ben Stokes remained unbeaten at one end playing a terrific innings, but on the other side, his team drowned under the pressure of a clinical bowling effort led by Lasith Malinga.
We struggled to get partnerships going
The veteran Lankan fast bowler registered amazing figures in which he took the prized scalps of Jonny Bairstow, James Vince, Joe Root and Jos Buttler and all of these came at vital moments of the game. This Headingley pitch was very similar to what was on offer for the 2017 Champions Trophy semifinal, which England lost to Pakistan. But Eoin Morgan, the England captain, feels that the defeat to Sri Lanka was different to the one to Pakistan couple of years back.
"In that game (against Pakistan) in particular, one side batted really well and the other didn't. In this (against Sri Lanka), both teams struggled," Morgan said after England's 20-run defeat in Leeds. "You look at the basics of a run chase. You know, partnerships are very important. We struggled to get enough partnerships going, or one substantial one. There were a couple of individual innings. But that is not good enough to win a game."
England had come into the World Cup as red-hot favourites, which they still are, but their qualification to the final four doesn't seem so easy right now. They are yet to face Australia, India and New Zealand - the three teams that have looked the strongest. India and New Zealand are yet to drop a game this World Cup.
"We are going to lose games in the group stages. We didn't deserve to win today's game," Morgan said. "I think the message is quite simple. We need to do the basics along with the way that we play as well.”