Just when you thought the World Cup group stages were becoming boring and the top four that would go on to play the semis was becoming predictable, Sri Lanka pulled the rabbit out of their hat and handed the fancied hosts England a 20-run defeat at Leeds.
Lasith Malinga was at the forefront of the victory as he took 4/43 in his ten overs to dismantle the England top order, which included the big wicket of Joe Root, and hand Sri Lanka a fourth striaght win over England in World Cups.
The win keeps the chances open for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan open to still make the top four, if England end up losing their next three games against New Zealand, Australia and India.
After winning the toss, Sri Lanka chose to bat first, but found themselves in trouble as Jofra Archer had the captain Dimuth Karunaratne dismissed for one run.
The very next over, things got worse for the Lankans as Chris Woakes took the wicket of the other opener Kusal Perera and they were 3/2 after 2.2 overs.
From there Avishka Fernando, making his World Cup debut scored an aggressive 49-run innings off just 39 deliveries where he hit six fours and two sixes.
But just before he reached a well earned half-century he gifted his wicket to Mark Wood.
Kusal Mendis then formed a steady partnership with Angelo Mathews to take the score to 133 before Kusal was dismissed by Adil Rashid for 46.
Rashid got a wicket the very next delivery, that of Jeevan Mendis for a golden duck to once again put England in command be on a hat-trick.
Dhananjaya de Silva then formed another steady partnership with Mathews as he brought up his fifty.
It would take a superb catch at mid-on to dismiss Dhananjaya for 29 and break the partnership.
Big-hitting Thisara Perera came on and many would have hoped he’d take Sri Lanka to a total above 250, but his poor form in the World Cup continued as he was gone for just two runs, to become Archer’s third scalp on the day.
With wickets tumbling at the other end, Mathews held his end up and farmed as much of the strike as possible to take Sri Lanka to 232/9, and him top scoring with 85 from 115 deliveries.
The total hardly seemed adequate on a batsman friendly surface that had 300-plus written all over it.
But Sri Lanka have Lasith Malinga, and he made sure he got the Lankans early wickets with the ball.
The right-arm fast-bowler first took the big wicket of Jonny Bairstow for a duck on the second delivery of the innings and then took the other opener, James Vince out for 14 to put England at 26/2.
The experienced duo of Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan then steadied things and just when England were looking to go on the ascendancy, Isuru Udana got the breakthrough as he caught and bowled Morgan with the score at 73/3.
In came Ben Stokes and immediately formed another good partnership of 54-runs with Root.
Root reached his half-century and things were going well for England before Karunaratne went back to his strike bowler Malinga, and he delivered.
Root was caught behind down the leg side to a ball which the umpire initially gave not-out.
The Sri Lankans appealed and then decided to review it, and the replays showed a spike on the snicko-meter.
That brought the game on even keel but when Jos Buttler was LBW for 10 off a super Malinga yorker, the Sri Lankans started to sniff a victory.
Moeen Ali was in next and he too succumbed to the pressure of the moment and the gradually increasing required run-rate and was out for 16,
The score was 170/6 when Moeen departed but that soon became 186/9 as Chris Woakes (2), Adil Rashid (1) and Jofra Archer (3), all lost their nerve and gave their wickets away to unnecessary shots.
With 47 required off 36 balls, Ben Stokes saw off the last over by Malinga taking a single off the last ball.
So, with 45 runs needed off the last 30 balls, Stokes launched the first two balls by Isuru Udana for six. He took a double in the fourth ball and in the fifth ball, took a single to let Mark Wood face the last delivery. He survived.
Nuwan Pradeep was up next with the equation at 30 runs needed from 24 balls and Stokes on strike.
The swashbuckling left-hander managed to take two boundaries in the second and third delivery before taking a single on the fifth ball and giving Wood the last ball to survive. He didn’t, feathering an edge to the keeper and it was all over.
This win makes things very interesting as Sri Lanka now jump to fifth spot with six points from six games. Bangladesh are down to sixth with five points from six games.
England remain at third spot with eight points but that could soon change as India face Afghanistan and two points there will take India to third spot.
Australia still top the table with ten points and New Zealand follow closely behind with nine.
Lasith Malinga’s four wickets takes him to fourth on the list of highest wicket-takers in World Cups with 51 wickets. Glenn McGrath leads the pack with 71 wickets while Muttiah Muralitharan is second with 68 wickets and Wasim Akram is third with 55 wickets.
England have played Australia, India and New Zealand (their next three opponents) ten times in the World Cups in the last 27 years and have not won a single game against them.
Sri Lanka 232 for 9 (Mathews 85*, Avishka 49, Kusal Mendis 46, Wood 3-40, Archer 3-52) beat England 212 (Stokes 82*, Root 57, Malinga 4-43, Dhananjaya 3-32) by 20 runs