England were counting the cost of their worst ever World Cup campaign after they flopped to a fifth defeat in six games against hosts India.
Despite a rocky history in one-day cricket the defending champions of 2019 have plumbed new depths over the last four weeks, racking up their most losses at a single tournament and an unprecedented sequence of four-in-a-row.
A 100-run thrashing in Lucknow, where they were skittled for a paltry 129, leaves them rooted to the foot of the table in 10th place and on course to embarrassingly miss out on the 2025 Champions Trophy.
It has emerged that places at that event, a ‘mini World Cup’ of sorts, will be awarded to hosts Pakistan and the seven best finishers in group stages of this event rather than being allocated on ICC rankings. As it stands, merely scrambling to eighth place will require a mighty turnaround in fortunes over the next three games.
For a side widely credited with revitalising the 50-over format over the last eight years, that would cap a remarkable fall from grace.
Losing to the table-topping hosts in front of 50,000 bombastic fans at the Ekana Stadium was no surprise – head coach Matthew Mott even billed the opposition “raging favourites” – but this was an opportunity missed.
A much-improved bowling and fielding performance, their best of the tournament to date, had restricted India to 229 for nine, but a top-order collapse left a hole they could not climb out of.
Between the penultimate ball of the fifth over and the first ball of the ninth, England lost their top four for just nine runs as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami ran amok. Between them the seam duo were a cut above England, sharing combined figures of seven for 54.
England began their chase with an air of misplaced confidence, tearing 30 off their target in less than five overs before things fell apart.
The architect of their downfall was the impeccable Bumrah, who had already started to get the ball talking before he claimed two wickets in two balls.
Dawid Malan was the first, slashing at width that was not there and dragging down his own stumps to stop the growing momentum in its tracks. For his next trick, Bumrah removed the linchpin Root for a golden duck.
Sizing his target up with a wicked delivery that tailed in on a full length, he thumped the front pad as Root shuffled across. It looked plumb lbw, but Root called for DRS.
UltraEdge showed a tiny disturbance as the ball passed the inside edge but TV umpire Ahsan Raza upheld the dismissal leaving Root pointedly waving his bat towards the big screen replays.
Stokes has bailed England out of worse dilemmas, but this time he could only exacerbate it.
Unable to get to grips with a high-class examination from India’s seamers he departed to an ugly swipe after a runless 10-ball cameo. Resolving to slog his way out of the mire, he cleared his front leg to a precision inducker from Shami, losing his composure, his balance and two of his stumps in one dreadful moment.
The stands exploded in celebration, with Kohli leaping high and punching the air with joy. Bairstow was next in line, bowled by Shami via two separate deflections to leave England 39 for four.
Buttler’s lean spell continued as he was wildly outfoxed by a ripper from left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav, hunched over his bat as he took England’s last hopes with him. Liam Livingstone top-scored with a modest 27, but the contest was already over settled as India applied the finishing touches inside 35 overs.
England, who surprisingly went in with the same XI that had been roundly hammered by Sri Lanka three days earlier, at least showed some fight in the first innings.
They bowled with control, kept producing chances and were visibly sharper in the field. Were it not for a captain’s knock of 87 from Rohit Sharma, that may well have been enough.
But his steadying hand, allied to a handy contribution of 49 from Suryakumar Yadav at the back end, bought India’s attack enough breathing space.
David Willey was the standout, claiming three for 45 including star man Virat Kohli for a nine-ball duck. Willey bowled every delivery to the master batter, tying him up with a nagging line and length before drawing a frustrated hack to mid-off.
That moment drew an instant, deathly silence from the massed thousands wearing replica ‘Virat’ shirts, with Willey flexing his biceps and filling the void with his own roar. He followed up with timely dismissals of KL Rahul (39) and Yadav, while Woakes and Adil Rashid also turned in encouraging performances.
With India losing four for 49 in the last 10 overs, it was hard to see what more England could have done to set up the chase but a limp batting display saw them bowled out for their lowest World Cup total since the inaugural edition in 1975.