Root’s century proves to be in vain, as Sri Lanka stroll home

England's Joe Root, right, celebrates with his teammate James Taylor after reaching a century during their Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Wellington, New Zealand, Sunday, March 1, 2015. (AP Photo Ross Setford)

England's Joe Root, right, celebrates with his teammate James Taylor after reaching a century during their Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka in Wellington, New Zealand, Sunday, March 1, 2015. (AP Photo Ross Setford)

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Captain Eoin Morgan will not entertain thoughts of a premature World Cup exit even though a nine-wicket defeat to Sri Lanka left England on the brink of disaster.

England suffered yet more pain at the Wellington Regional Stadium as centuries from Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara inspired a record pursuit of 309 for six - after Joe Root’s century had helped Enland earlier top the 300 mark.

Defeat leaves England needing to beat lower-ranked Bangladesh and Afghanistan in their remaining pool games and, even then, it might not be enough to keep their hopes alive.

Morgan was not willing to consider the prospect, however, of an early flight home after his side’s third loss in four games at the tournament.

“It’s not even a thought at the moment,” he said.

“We have two games to win to get us into a quarter-final.”

Root became England’s youngest centurion at a World Cup, at the age of 24, as his career-best 121 from 108 balls helped his side post a formidable 309 for six.

But Sri Lanka comfortably reeled in a record chase at the Wellington Regional Stadium with 16 balls to spare, thanks to twin tons from Lahiru Thirimanne and Kumar Sangakkara, to inflict yet more pain for England at the venue.

England suffered one of their worst-ever World Cup defeats at the ground nine days ago, when they were left humbled by New Zealand, and this latest reverse means they now have no room for error if they are to reach the knockout phase.

Root reached his fourth ODI century from exactly 100 balls, when he cut Angelo Mathews to the point rope, to displace David Gower as England’s youngest World Cup centurion after he managed the feat when he was almost two years older at the 1983 tournament.

Root initially had to restore some calm to England’s batting after Bell’s early aggression gave well to a slow spell during which Gary Ballance’s run of poor form continued.

The Sheffield Collegiate man was eventually trapped lbw by Rangana Herath and Jos Buttler took charge of the hitting - after being hit in the helmet by Lasith Malinga first ball - as he crashed 39 from 19 balls.

But that wasn’t enough as Sri Lanka strolled home, with their openers combining in a century stand in as many balls before Dilshan squeezed Moeen Ali to Eoin Morgan at midwicket.

It was England’s only success with the ball as a punishing unbroken 212-run stand followed between Thirimanne and Sangakkara.

Meanwhile, Kevin Pietersen will decide in the coming week if his England career can be salvaged.

The incoming chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Colin Graves, has told Pietersen he has to play county cricket if he harbours any hopes of an England return, and that could mean abandoning commitments to play in the Indian Premier League and Caribbean Premier League.