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Brilliant Root century propels England to 309



Root became the youngest England player, at 24, to score a century
in a World Cup
This was England's sixth-highest total in World Cups

Joe Root became the youngest England player to score a World Cup century © Getty
At the Westpac Stadium, where last week they were bowled out for 123 in 33.2 overs, England put in a far better performance by winning the toss and making 309 for 6 against Sri Lanka on Sunday. Leading the way was Joe Root with 121 from 108 balls, an energetic, excellently-paced innings that lifted England from 71 for 2 to 265 for 6, a stage from which Jos Buttler stepped on the pedal efficiently. In the process, Root became the youngest England player, at 24, to score a century in a World Cup.

Forced to field on a good batting deck on a sunny morning, Sri Lanka's bowlers chipped away manfully inside the mandatory Powerplay but once Root and James Taylor joined hands to put on 98 in quick time, the momentum was all England's. Each of the six bowlers used by Angelo Mathews, himself included, picked up at least one wicket but their inability to snap a 98-run alliance between Root and Taylor left them chasing a big total. Lasith Malinga was disappointing with 1 for 63 in ten, while Suranga Lakmal conceded 71 in 7.4 overs.

England's start was worth 62 in 9.2 overs, with Moeen Ali's contribution being 15 off 26 balls before he chipped Mathews to mid-off. Nine runs later, Gary Ballance's awful tournament continued when, on six from 14 balls, he drove a catch back to Tillakaratne Dilshan, who took it diving to his left. After two edges for four early on, Ian Bell played some gorgeous shots as he eased to 35 from 24 balls, but then he oddly slowed down, managing 14 runs without a boundary from his next 29 balls faced. Bogged down, he fell for a 54-ball 49 when he inside-edged a half-volley from Lakmal in the 21st over.

Root, 17 from 27 at the time, was joined by his skipper Eoin Morgan and the pair went into recovery mode. They added 60 in 14.1 overs through sensible, tap-and-run cricket until Morgan (27) cut Thisara Perera to point just before the Batting Powerplay. Luckily for England, Root and Taylor manoeuvered that five-over block with Root's cutting and striking as he steered and guided Malinga and Perera into the gaps. Taylor harried between the wickets after pushing fuller deliveries in front of fielder inside the circle, getting the fluent Root on strike for 18 deliveries in the Powerplay, from which he scored 28 runs. That set England up nicely for a late assault in the final ten, at 203 for 4 after 40 overs.

Root lifted the tempo by squeezing a Malinga yorker to third man for four, then heaved Angelo Mathews for six to move to 96. The landmark came next ball, Root steering another four between cover and point. He needed 100 balls.

Then, something stunning happened. Taking a leaf out of Buttler's book, Root walked right across the stumps in consecutive balls to reverse-paddle Perera for four and six. Then, seeing that there was no cover deep on the leg side, Root moved back in his crease to shovel Perera over midwicket for another boundary. Next ball, a thick edge past Kumar Sangakkara for four more. With Taylor having started Perera's over with six, those six balls produced 25 runs.

Taylor went in the next over for a run-a-ball 25, guiding Malinga to backward point for Dilshan's third catch, and then Root fell trying to reverse-sweep the left-arm spin of Rangana Herath. Butter was clanged on the helmet by a sharp bouncer first up, but picked himself up to inject 39 from 18 balls to England's total. One of his fiercely-struck shots sent Herath off the field during the penultimate over with a bleeding index finger, and the replacement bowler, Perera, conceded four off the last delivery. Buttler toyed with Mathews' poor field placements - third man and fine leg back for the paddle - by crunching four and six through the vacant offside off Lakmal in the last over. A second full toss from sent Lakmal out of t
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