Sri Lanka hammering will give England ‘kick up the back side’ they need says captain Heather Knight

Ella Jerman
Heather Knight's side were humbled in Adelaide: EPA

Heather Knight believes England’s crushing ten-wicket warm-up defeat to Sri Lanka is the wake-up call her side needed ahead of Sunday’s T20 World Cup opener against South Africa.

England’s rejigged batting order, which saw the captain herself drop to seven in favour of giving the middle order more time at the crease, struggled with Sri Lanka’s spinners and were restricted to 122/9.

From there it went from bad to worse for Knight’s side as opposite number Chamari Atapattu stole the show in Adelaide, her unbeaten 78 steering her side to a shock victory.

“The defeat is disappointing but it’s better that it happens now than in the World Cup,” said Knight. “I think we’ll learn a lot of lessons from today. Fair play to Sri Lanka, we saw some outstanding batting from them. I think Chamari Atapattu will upset a few teams at this World Cup.

“They bowled well too with their spinners bowling quick into the wicket, which we didn’t react fast enough to. It will give us a kick up the back side, which to be honest, might not be a bad thing. We’ll be ready to come back for our first game on Sunday against South Africa and we know we need to play better against them to be successful.”

Batting first, it was far from the start England would have hoped for when Danni Wyatt was out for five in the second over, Anushka Sanjeewani with the catch off Shashikala Siriwardena’s first ball.

From there the top order quickly collapsed, Fran Wilson at three was run out for 18 before opener Amy Jones was caught on the boundary by captain Atapattu, giving Siriwardena her second wicket.

Chamari Atapattu and Hasini Perera guided Sri Lanka to the win (EPA)

England found themselves at 55/4 at the end of the eighth over, a mix-up between Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield proving costly when the latter was run out for one.

Katherine Brunt was the next victim of Siriwardena’s canny bowling when she was caught by Nilakshika Silva for a two-ball duck, before England were left at 80/6 after 14 overs when Beaumont was bowled by Atapattu for 23 when attempting a reverse sweep.

Before long Atapattu had her second wicket, clean bowling Anya Shrubsole for nine, and not even Knight could save England this time around as the captain was dismissed following a patient 19, not scoring a boundary in her 25 balls.

Siriwardena played a key role in restricting England to 122/9 with 4/22, but it was captain Atapattu who took the final scalp when Sarah Glenn was caught for six.

It wasn’t just with the ball that Sri Lanka impressed either, as Atapattu and Hasini Madushika’s 123-run unbeaten opening partnership secured their stunning ten-wicket victory in Adelaide.

All of England’s bowlers found the going tough with Brunt the only one to bowl more than over and go at better than nine runs an over.

England have just a few days to recover from the chastening defeat before facing South Africa in Perth on Sunday in their opening game of the World Cup.