England's World Cup woes returned in Wellington today, as they suffered yet another defeat in their latest group match against Sri Lanka. Batting first and compiling a solid score over 300, they must have thought that they were likely to come out on top, yet their experienced ODI opponents paced their reply perfectly to take a resounding 9-wicket triumph, consigning the Red Rose nation to their third defeat in the tournament. The defeat puts England's hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals in severe doubt, requiring to win both of their remaining group matches now to have any chance.

After winning the toss, England decided to bat first. Moeen Ali was unable to repeat his heroics from the Scotland match, scoring just 15 this time, but Ian Bell was again in good form before being bowled just one run short of his fifty. With Gary Ballance once again going cheaply, batting at number three, it was left to Yorkshireman Joe Root to provide the bulk of the runs for his side. His fine 121 ensured that Eoin Morgan's men posted a respectable and (one thought) very defendable total of 309 for 6 from their 50 overs, with Jos Buttler contributing a handy 39 not out towards the end.

Chasing 310 for the victory, Sri Lanka would surely have expected a tougher battle than they had in their run chase.

A century opening partnership between Tillakaratne Dilshan and Lahiru Thirimanne was just what they would have wanted though, to set them up for the later stages of their innings. Dilshan's departure for 44 signalled the arrival of that indomitable veteran of one-day matches, Kumar Sangakkara, and again he did not disappoint his fans.

The pair put on an unbeaten stand of 212 for the second wicket to guide their nation to the win on 312-1 with 16 balls remaining. Thirimanne remained unbeaten on 139 at the end, while Sangakkara was also not out on 117. It was his second successive century in the competition, one of the fastest ever in World Cup history off just 70 balls, and moved him into the lofty heights of third on the World Cup all-time run scorers.

For Sri Lanka it was another outstanding performance, their third victory in a row in the tournament, as they seem certainties for the last-eight. England by contrast are in dire need of winning their last two group games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, not by any means an impossible task but their spirits will not be at their highest after another loss. Even if they do reach the quarter-finals, they do not seem to be in the kind of form that would trouble many of the leading sides left at that stage, although the replacement of Ballance with the specialist one-day batsman Alex Hales might be a step in the right direction.