Sri Lanka showed they just might be a team to worry about at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 with another assured performance with the bat – that man Kumar Sangakkara again showing his ridiculous class -- this time easily beating England in a chase of over 300.
Choosing to bat first, England posted a solid 309/6 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, with Joe Root becoming the youngest player ever for his country to score a World Cup hundred, and quite a hundred it was.
However, Sri Lanka paced their chase perfectly, with the openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lahiru Thirimanne (139 n.o., 143b, 13x4, 2x6) setting the perfect platform, before Kumar Sangakkara (117, 86b, 11x4, 2x6) showed just why he is so fantastic a batsman with another brilliant knock.
Such was the ease with which Sri Lanka chased down 310, that right from the off, there was little doubt about the outcome, especially with the ball neither swinging nor seaming for the England bowlers, with the match ending with 2.4 overs and nine wickets to spare for the Lankans.
The likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Chris Woakes looked toothless, and the Sri Lanka openers cruised to 100 in the 19th over. Tillakaratne Dilshan (44, 55b, 4x4, 2x6) fell in the final ball of that over, to Moeen Ali, but all that did was bring the unstoppable Sangakkara to the crease.
Fresh from his blitz of a hundred against Bangladesh, Sangakkara carried on like he had never left the crease from that innings, easing the ball for singles in the early part of the knock, before kicking up a gear or three from the Batting Powerplay.
Thirimanne was happy to play second fiddle at the other end to a certain extent and notch his hundred – he should have been caught by Moeen Ali when on 98 – as Sangakkara cut loose in his own inimitable way, with pure, easy-on-the-eye cricketing shots.
From 188/1 in 34 overs, Sri Lanka, taking the Batting Powerplay an over earlier than it would have been mandatory, scored 54 runs in those 30 balls, and at 242/1, with 11 overs to play, it was a simple task to knock down the rest of the 68 runs.
Earlier, England fumbled and stumbled a little in their innings, and it was only a brilliant 121 (108b, 14x4, 2x6) from Root and a late blitz from Jos Buttler that took them to that 309 in the end.
Moeen Ali and Ian Bell started the match on a blaze of glory, scoring runs at a fair clip, but Ali's penchant for getting out when set continued, with skipper Angelo Mathews taking the scalp. The Gary Balance at No.3 project is clearly not working with the left-hander falling cheaply again, and it took a decent 31-run partnership from Bell (49, 54b, 7x4) and Root and then a 60-run alliance from skipper Eoin Morgan and Root to settle England down a little bit.
The innings got some momentum once Morgan fell, with Root and James Taylor putting on 98 runs together in just 11 overs. It was really good cricket from the two right-handers, and even if they fell in the space of six balls towards the end, Buttler (39, 19b, 6x4, 1x6) came in and smashed a few to take England past 300.
However, early wickets were going to be essential if England were to stop Sri Lanka from chasing down the total, and once the chance of that vanished without a trace, it was as easy as pie for the 2011 CWC finalists.
Get the Full Scorecard of the Match HERE