England suffer shock Cricket World Cup defeat

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England were strangled into a shock 20-run defeat by Sri Lanka that dented their hopes of reaching the World Cup semi-finals and breathed life into the tournament.

Chasing 233 on an increasingly difficult pitch, the hosts were smothered by a brilliant Sri Lanka bowling performance in a compelling contest at Headingley.

When Ben Stokes was joined by last man Mark Wood, England still needed 47, but Stokes clubbed 23 from eight deliveries to make a deafening crowd believe.

Wood, though, edged Nuwan Pradeep behind to leave Stokes stranded on 82 not out and England 212 all out.

They had earlier restricted Sri Lanka to 232-9, with Angelo Mathews’ painstaking 85 proving to be a match-winning innings.

England stay third in the 10-team table, but their three most difficult group games – against Australia, India and New Zealand, are still to come.

Sri Lanka climb to fifth, only two points behind England, their unlikely hopes of reaching the semi-finals still alive.

Before this match, there was the danger England, Australia, India and New Zealand would pull away to leave the elongated group stage nothing more than a procession towards the semi-finals.

On a sun-kissed day at Headingley, amid unbearable tension in front of a crowd fully invested in the action, Sri Lanka produced a display full of fight and spirit.

In doing so, they delighted their noisy pockets of fans that included a brass band that played non-stop, as well as injecting much-needed intrigue into the tournament.

At the same time, they have raised questions about an England side that hit a world record 25 sixes in demolishing Afghanistan at Old Trafford on Tuesday, but that failed to adapt to the difficult batting conditions in Leeds.

Some, like James Vince and Moeen Ali, fell in infuriating fashion, while Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler were fooled into playing across the slingy Lasith Malinga, who claimed 4-43.

Just like when their fielding cost them against Pakistan, England helped engineer their own downfall and, as it stands, will have to find at least one win from their remaining games if they are to make the last four. (BBC Sport)

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