England, the defending champions at the ODI World Cup, encountered a rough start in the 2023 edition earlier this month. They suffered a painful 9-wicket defeat to New Zealand, which set the tone for a difficult journey ahead. Despite bouncing back with a convincing win against Bangladesh in Dharamsala, their resurgence was short-lived as they faced a shocking 69-run loss against Afghanistan. Their misfortunes continued as they succumbed to a devastating 229-run defeat at the hands of South Africa in a crucial match in Mumbai.
Joe Root, a prominent batter for England, expressed his dismay about the challenging conditions in Mumbai, emphasizing the poor air quality. “I’ve not played in anything like that before,” Root remarked. “It felt like you couldn’t get your breath. It was like you were eating the air. It was unique.” Root highlighted the visible struggle of South Africa’s star player, Heinrich Klaasen, who couldn’t return to the field during England’s run-chase due to the oppressive conditions. “You could see how much it took out of him, not being able to get back out onto the field,” Root added.
Describing the oppressive environment further, Root explained, “You walk out onto the field and your shirt’s soaking wet, and you have a lot heavier breath than you would do, and you know you’ve done your fitness and stuff, it’s not like you’re short on that. So you are very aware of it.”
With their morale dampened by consecutive losses, England’s team, led by Jos Buttler, is determined to put their setbacks aside and refocus their efforts in the upcoming match against a struggling Sri Lankan team. While Sri Lanka managed to secure a victory against the Netherlands in their previous encounter, their journey has been marred by injury issues. The latest blow came with the exclusion of Matheesha Pathirana, leading to the call-up of veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews from Sri Lanka to fill the void.