WELLINGTON: Joe Root became the youngest England batsman to score a World Cup hundred, with 121 against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
England’s opening two matches against co-hosts Australia and New Zealand yielded thumping defeats by 111 runs and eight wickets respectively.
They stopped the bleeding with a 119-run Pool A win over border rivals Scotland in Christchurch on Monday.
But beating a non-Test team is the least that’s expected of England and victory over Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, at Wellington would do wonders for their morale.
The 24-year-old’s innings saw Root beat the England record of David Gower, who was 26 when he posted a hundred against Sri Lanka at Taunton during the 1983 World Cup.
Root struck a six and a four off successive deliveries from Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews to bring up his century at exactly a run-a-ball after England won the toss in the Pool A clash.
However, Root had made just two when he was dropped by in the slips by Mahela Jayawardene off Mathews.
He was eventually out lbw trying to reverse-sweep left-arm spinner Rangana Herath after facing 108 balls, including 14 fours and two sixes.
“Root batted really well,” said Jayawardene. “He built an innings and once he got his hundred he went after it.
“England had a good start and we managed to pull it back in the middle. There’s not much movement up front — if we start well it’s just six runs an over.”
Root’s century was England’s second hundred of the World Cup after opener Moeen Ali made 128 against Scotland.
England’s total of 309 for six was their highest of the tournament so far and in marked contrast to their previous appearance in Wellington, where they were skittled out for just 123 by New Zealand last week.
Sri Lanka, losing finalists at the last two World Cups, have had a mixed start to this edition, losing to New Zealand before defeating Afghanistan and Bangladesh. AFP