England came into this World Cup as the favourites and reputation of a side that is almost invincible when chasing. Both reputations have got somewhat tarnished. The loss to Pakistan in their second match while chasing was a setback. But the Three Lions are back in a bit of trouble against an even weaker opposition - Sri Lanka.
Having restricted Sri Lanka to just 232, England were expected to romp home. But Sri Lanka and Lasith Malinga had other ideas. The veteran pacer picked up the wickets of the two openers to push England back. This was followed by a nice partnership betweeen the captain Eoin Morgan and Joe Root which put their team back on track. But a reflex catch from Isuru Udana ended the skipper's vigil. Ben Stokes came in and with some handsome shots, put the pressure back on Lanka.
At the other end, Joe Root was playing his usual sheet anchor role. But then a stroke of good luck put Sri Lanka back in the game. Joe Root nicked a wayward delivery from Lasith Malinga way down the leg side to give an easy catch to the wicketkeeper. With this, England have been reduced to 127/4. Jos Buttler has joined Stokes. But then a typical Malinga yorker had the number of Jos Buttler to reduce the hosts to 144/5. There is still Moeen Ali but he is a very unpredictable player.
Even if England go on to win this match, questions will be raised about their much-vaunted ability to chase and preference for batting second. Their struggle against Sri Lanka also suggest that the line-up isn't as well-oiled as expected or are at least, feeling the pressure of expectations. For four years, England have been building up to this mega event, under the leadership of captain Eoin Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss. Are they starting to wilt under it?