England’s excruciating World Cup campaign took another turn for the worse as they slumped to 156 all out in their must-win match against Chris Silverwood’s Sri Lanka.
Knowing defeat in Bengaluru would leave them with one win in five and end any realistic hope of reaching the semi-finals, they batted calamitously and were rounded up in just 33.2 overs of self-inflicted pain.
Ben Stokes top-scored with 43 but even he barely laid a glove on the opposition, looking short of fluency throughout a 73-ball stay. Six players were dismissed in single figures, with Adil Rashid’s comical run out at the non-striker’s end summing up a shoddy performance.
England’s increasingly confusing selection continued as they dropped rising star Harry Brook, leaving them with a conspicuously ageing side comprised entirely of thirtysomethings for the first time ever in one-day cricket.
With up-and-coming seamer Gus Atkinson also benched, Liam Livingstone – who turned 30 in August – was youngest player on the teamsheet and they batted like a side long past their peak.
They now face the embarrassment of being ousted from the tournament they won four years ago by Silverwood, the man who was supposed to lead England in India before being sacked after the Ashes debacle of 2021/22.
Things began with a brief burst of positivity, openers Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow taming the new ball sufficiently to plunder 45 in 39 balls. With nine boundaries in the first six overs, there was an early hint of optimism.
But that was shattered by the introduction of old rival Angelo Mathews, called up as an injury replacement just a couple of days ago and embarking on his first ODI spell in three-and-a-half years.
It took the 36-year-old just three deliveries to get back in the groove, Malan caught behind for 28 chasing a cutter.
Mathews, who starred when Sri Lanka beat England at Headingley in the 2019 group stages, was involved again in the crucial dismissal of Joe Root.
Root had just three to his name when he chopped to point and set off for a single, turning to race back once Bairstow dug his heels in at the non-striker’s end. Mathews picked up and threw in one swift movement, leaving Kusal Mendis to obliterate the stumps as Root dived in vain.
The errors kept coming, Bairstow reaching 30 before a cross-batted swat at Kasun Rajitha plonked straight to mid-on.
Stokes dug a defensive trench in an attempt to halt the Sri Lankan momentum, but his rearguard was undermined as Lahiru Kumara picked off Jos Buttler swishing to slip and Livingstone lbw.
With just 17 overs down they were 85 for five and circling the drain.
Stokes went on the attack muscling some boundaries despite struggling for timing, but lost two more partners as Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes fed catches to backward point.
When Stokes dragged a pull down deep-midwicket’s throat, England’s hopes of an unlikely revival went with him, but there was another nadir still to come.
Rashid was backing up at the bowler’s end when Mendis took a Maheesh Theekshana wide down the leg side, spotted the chance of an opportunistic dismissal and threw down the stumps from 25 yards.
It was a shambolic way to go and entirely in keeping with England’s demeanour over the past month.
Theekshana had Mark Wood stumped to complete the job, putting Sri Lanka in complete control.