England won the toss and invited Lankans to bat and were bundled out for 232. Archer and Wood were the stars for England. However, that proved to be enough, in the end, Ben Stokes’ unbeaten 82 went in vain.
Hero, it is Lasith Malinga who ended four big wickets of Bairstow, Root, Buttler, and Vince. However, credit has to be given to all the Lankan bowlers here. Everybody was extremely disciplined and never gave anything away. Udana and Dhananajaya were also crucial as they took five amongst them. Nuwan Pradeep also had a wicket to his name and probably the one which mattered the most, the last one.
Defending 232, you need early wickets and Sri Lanka did manage to send both the openers back in the hut quite early on. Root and Morgan then steadied the ship with a fifty run stand. The later fell but then Stokes joined Root and the two added yet another 50-plus run stand. England was on top then but Sri Lanka did not let them run away with the game. They kept bowling tight and never let England score freely and that tight bowling finally paid off. They got Root and Buttler in quick succession. Moeen Ali and Archer threw it away when they needed to bat sensibly. Stokes was the lone man fighting and at once stage, it seemed like, he would win the game for them but Wood could not negotiate the one ball he had to of Nuwan Pradeep.
Dimuth Karunaratne | Sri Lanka captain:
It was a close one. Sometimes we were under pressure and sometimes we were dominating. At the end of the day, it was teamwork – batters, bowlers, and fielders. This wicket looked good but when we were batting it was slow. We knew we couldn’t get 300, so we wanted to get 250-275 but unfortunately, we lost wickets. Angelo batted really well and took responsibility. If we had the score, the bowlers knew what to do on this wicket. When Malinga got a couple of wickets we had to keep him for the last overs and then I gave Dhananjaya the ball and he did a good job. Those are the things we want as a team and I am expecting those things as a captain. I think Root’s wicket was the turning point. I was not confident (with the review) but still went for it.
Eoin Morgan | England captain:
I thought we were really good with the bowl, adapted to the conditions and we restricted Sri Lanka to a chasable total. Lack of partnerships cost us the game. A couple of individual performances almost took us over the line. It is frustrating in the dressing room. Every game is extremely tough in this tournament, we have talked about this. We will look to bounce back well on Tuesday. Both sides found the conditions challenging. It was a bowler’s day. There will be more of those throughout the tournament so we will have to adapt better. It is a tournament where you need to adjust and turn things around. Naturally, as a team we tend to come back strongly, that is our strong point. This is a long tournament and we have huge opportunities in every game. We have the chance to bounce back. We have Australia next; it is one of those fixtures which you look first in the fixture list before the start of the tournament. It is always very exciting playing them at the home of cricket. We don’t know yet (whether Roy will be fit for the Australia match).
Malinga (Man of the Match):
(On the dropped catch of Stokes) We know how good a player he is, we’ve seen it in T20 cricket and in the IPL. But we kept sticking to our plans, ensured that he played away dots and put pressure on him. It paid off. Our plan was to stick to line and length on this pitch with the slower ones and bouncers. We have the confidence to influence matches and have faith in ourselves.