Sri Lanka thrashes England, Pakistan keeps hope alive

Sri Lanka thrashes England, Pakistan keeps hope alive

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Sri Lanka inflicted England’s third crushing defeat by a Test nation at this World Cup with a nine-wicket win on Sunday that left their opponents’ quarter-final hopes hanging by a thread as Pakistan revived their bid for a place in the last eight beating Zimbabwe by 20 runs.
Chasing 310 for victory, Sri Lanka cruised to a seemingly stiff target with 16 balls to spare as Lahiru Thirimanne, who ended the match with a six off Chris Woakes to be 139 not out, and Kumar Sangakkara (117 not out) shared an unbroken partnership of 212 for the second wicket in Wellington.The 37-year-old Sangakkara went to three figures off 70 balls, including ten fours and two sixes.
It was the quickest of all the veteran left-hander’s 23 one-day international hundreds and was his second in as many matches after he marked his 400th ODI with an unbeaten 105 against Bangladesh.
Yet Sangakkara insisted he still planned to retire from white-ball cricket after the World Cup as he was “getting old”.
“Everything I tried came off. But the openers had a great start and that was an exceptional innings by Thirimanne,” he said after a win that left 1996 champions Sri Lanka, losing finalists at the last two World Cups, on course for the quarter-finals.
England opened this World Cup with a 111-run loss to Australia before suffering an even more humiliating eight-wicket defeat by New Zealand, the other tournament co-hosts.
What made Sunday’s result all the worse was that they posted a decent total of 309 for six, with the 24-year-old Joe Root becoming the youngest England batsman to score a World Cup century on his way to 121.
However, Root had made just two when he was dropped by in the slips by Mahela Jayawardene off Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews.
But it was a dropped slip catch by Root that proved more important in the context of the game when he floored a chance given by Thirimanne, on three, off Stuart Broad although the blame for the error lay with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who shaped to go for the chance before pulling out late.
England were unable to gain much swing on a ground where New Zealand’s Tim Southee had taken seven for 33 against them last week when they were skittled out for just 123.
England’s battery of right-arm seamers once again formed an all-too predictable attack with the senior duo of Broad and James Anderson seeing their combined 18 wicketless overs cost 115 runs.
“At ‘half-time’ we went in thinking we had a more than par score,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “Joe Root was exceptional.”
However, Morgan didn’t spare his bowlers.
“We were way off the mark. When we are bowling well, it’s a good attack but you can pick it apart when we’re not bowling well and today we didn’t bowl well.”
– Imran inspiration –
Sunday’s other match sees Pakistan getting their first points on the board when they narrowly beat Zimbabwe at Brisbane’s Gabba ground by 20 runs.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had urged his side to follow the example of Imran Khan’s victorious team, who won the World Cup when the tournament was last staged in Australia and New Zealand 23 years ago.
Pakistan, engulfed by a series of on and off-field controversies, which saw eight squad members fined for breaking a curfew and chief selector Moin Khan sent home for visiting a casino, have lost both of their opening matches — by 76 runs to India and 150 runs against the West Indies.
They are bottom of Pool B and defeat by Zimbabwe will virtually condemn them to an early exit.
But Pakistan were also on the brink of bowing out in the first round before winning the 1992 World Cup under the leadership of inspirational all-rounder Imran.
“The important lesson is never give up,” said Misbah, and he proved true in the end.
“That’s what you need to do as a player and as a team. That’s what Imran Khan usually says about 1992.” – BSS/AFP
Former champions Pakistan survived a scare to pull off a dramatic 20-run victory over Zimbabwe and record their first win at the 2015 World Cup.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq’s stubborn 73 and a fiery half-century from pace bowler Wahab Riaz helped the 1992 winners recover from 4-2 to reach 235-7.
Brendan Taylor’s 50 looked to have put Zimbabwe on course for a famous win.
But Mohammad Irfan, with career-best one-day international figures of 4-30, and Riaz (4-45) won it for Pakistan.
Riaz became the first Pakistani to score a fifty and take four wickets in the same World Cup match – and only the eighth cricketer to achieve the feat.
And victory was important for Misbah’s men, who, after heavy defeats by India and the West Indies, would have faced an uphill battle to progress to the quarter-finals had they lost again.
“It was really tough because it was a make or break game for us,” said the Pakistan captain. “You can’t believe how happy we are because we were out of the tournament if we’d lost this game.”
Despite a backdrop of fierce criticism from the public and former players back home – and with chief selector Moin Khan forced to return from the World Cup after visiting a casino – Pakistan posted their highest score of the tournament so far, though their innings got off to a wretched start.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Pakistan were rocking at 1-1 and 4-2 as Tendai Chatara claimed the wickets of openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad.
But skipper Misbah played a vital innings, steadying the ship as wickets regularly fell around him – including two in one over when Williams dismissed Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi in the space of three balls. Afridi, celebrating his 35th birthday, went for a duck.
Only a late flurry from Riaz – his 54 coming from 55 balls – injected some urgency into the Pakistan innings and gave them a meaningful total to defend.
Zimbabwe lost Sikander Raza and Chamu Chibhabha cheaply – Irfan taking both – but Taylor’s half-century and Sean Williams’ 33 from 32 balls took them to 128-3 and appeared to put them on course for victory.
However, Riaz repeated his batting heroics with the ball, sharing eight wickets with fellow left-arm paceman Irfan as Zimbabwe crumbled.
Injured captain Elton Chigumbura, who was helped off the field with a suspected quadricep tear while fielding, tried valiantly to steer Zimbabwe to victory but was last man out for a run-a-ball 35.
“It is always disappointing to lose a game like this when you feel you have a chance to win,” said Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura.
“Our weakness has been that we have not had one guy scoring a hundred or batting through the innings.”
While Zimbabwe will be frustrated not to have registered only a fourth ODI win over Pakistan, Misbah’s team now head into their next Pool B game against the United Arab Emirates on 4 March with renewed hope of making the last eight. – BBC Sport

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