Shastri, Collingwood show no mercy as England go low, lower, lowest in World Cup | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Shastri, Collingwood show no mercy as England go low, lower, lowest in World Cup 2023 vs Sri Lanka

Oct 26, 2023 07:34 PM IST

England were bowled out for 156 in just 33.2 overs on a good batting pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru against Sri Lanka.

Is that really England playing at the World Cup? It doesn't seem so. They got hammered by New Zealand in the tournament opener, were stunned by Afghanistan, then got bowled out for 170 against South Africa and now they have succumbed to their lowest World Cup total against Sri Lanka. The downward spiral is reaching a new low every day. England were bowled out for 156 in just 33.2 overs on a good batting pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday. This is the lowest total by any team at the venue, which is known for producing high-scoring matches. This was also England's third lowest ODI total against Sri Lanka overall after 88 (in 2003) and 143 (in 2001) - both in Dambula.

England's batter Jos Buttler walks off the field after his dismissal during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match vs Sri Lanka, at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Bengaluru(PTI)
England's batter Jos Buttler walks off the field after his dismissal during the Cricket World Cup 2023 match vs Sri Lanka, at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Bengaluru(PTI)

This pitch, however, was not as placid. It offered spongy bounce and the defending champions struggled massively after opting to bat. But more than the surface or the enterprising Sri Lankan bowlers, the English batsmen battled inner demons, save Ben Stokes who made a gritty 43 off 73 balls.

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Collingwood, Shastri baffled by England's batting

Former England captain Paul Collingwood was left speechless seeing such a meek surrender from a side that was considered to be one of the top contenders heading into the tournament. "It's difficult to watch. You can see that there is a lack of confidence among all batters. They tried to be ultra-aggressive and put Sri Lanka under pressure but it didn't work. Whatever they are trying doesn't seem to work. All of their shots went to hand. It was a brilliant performance from Sri Lanka. They put England under pressure. They suffocated them," Collingwood said on Star Sports.

England vs Sri Lanka Live Score, World Cup 2023

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri said England's entire top-order looks out of touch, out of rhythm. "This England team, the way I look at it, not only lacks confidence but also lacks direction in the way they are playing. Some of the shots that they are playing are playing the numbers game at times. When Bairstow was looking to play normal shots while batting with Malan, the runs were coming. The moment he tried to force it, cheeky shots, he got out, a couple of more wickets fell and they lost their way. I haven't seen an England side where the entire top-order is out of form. There is a lack of rhythm, a lack of fluency and that comes from a lack of confidence," he said.

The great England collapse

Opener Dawid Malan who milked 45 runs with Jonny Bairstow, could be excused though. Angelo Mathews, an injury replacement for pacer Matheesha Pathirana, put him in two minds with a delivery that bounced from the length just enough to take an edge off his bat to Kusal Mendis behind the stumps. However, Malan during his 25-ball 28 showed that the pitch is not a hard one to bat on while essaying some gorgeous drives through the off-side.

Unfortunately, several subsequent batters did not take the route and they were also culpable of playing some really poor cricket. Joe Root got run out while taking off for a non-existing single, captain Jos Buttler made an expansive drive outside the off-stump off Lahiru Kumara to get caught behind and Bairstow never timed the pull off Kasun Rajitha to find Dhananjaya de Silva at mid-on. Liam Livingstone played the wrong line off Kumara to get trapped leg-before. Moeen Ali went for a cut off Mathews when there was no width on offer, and Kusal Perera snaffled the simple offering at point.

These batsmen were expected to lead England's batting charge in a must-win match, and they failed to respond to the situation. Stokes did try on his own. He had the assistance of fortune as well when Sadeera Samarawickrama floored a tough chance at point off Kumara when the all-rounder was on 12. England were 86 for 5 then.

The left-hander played some archetypal power-packed shots through either side, but the day was not made for a one-man show that Stokes is known to produce. His dismissal, caught by substitute Dushan Hemantha, at deep of Kumara, effectively ended England's chances of posting a challenging total despite them having an extra-long batting line-up. Adil Rashid's comical run out while backing up too far could be taken as a symbol of England's drudges with the bat on the day.

But the inept batting display of England should not rob the Lankan bowlers of the just credit. Kumara (3 for 35) has the tendency to be all over the place but when he hits his lengths correctly, the right-arm pacer is a different beast, who can also crank up some serious speed to hustle the batters.

And hustled England were indeed on the day. They will hope for some more spunk from their bowlers to conjure an unlikely win and remain in the semifinal race.

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