The 2010 World T20 winner England held their nerves to beat Sri Lanka by four wickets in their final Super 12 game at the Sydney Cricket Ground and book their berth in the semifinals of the Men's T20 World Cup 2022, here on Saturday.
With this win, England also knocked out hosts and defending champions Australia from the tournament. On the other hand, Sri Lanka were already out of the semifinal race before the game.
Chasing a below-par target, England needed a steady start and they got more than that as Alex Hales and Jos Buttler put on an opening stand of 75 runs.
The batters looked at absolute ease against the Sri Lankan pacers. While Buttler played the second fiddle in the partnership, scoring 28 from 23 deliveries, Hales blasted his way to 47 from 30 deliveries.
Both Buttler and Hales looked in a hurry to finish off the game but Wanindu Hasaranga had other plans as he sent both batters back to their dugout in consecutive overs. Those two wickets triggered a collapse and England went on to lose four more wickets in the space of just 47 runs, making the chase extremely difficult for themselves.
While wickets kept tumbling at one end, Ben Stokes played a calm and composed knock from the other end as he remained unbeaten on 42 from 36 deliveries. The experienced all-rounder took the game deep and Chris Woakes (5 not out) finished the chase off with a boundary in the final over with two deliveries to spare.
Wanindu Hasaranga (2-23), Dhananjaya de Silva (2-24), and Lahiru Kumara (2-24) were the wicket-takers for Sri Lanka.
Earlier, the Sri Lankan openers put on a stand of 39 runs in the first four overs. At 80/2 at the end of 10 overs, Sri Lanka were in a very good position in the game.
Although Mendis and Dhananjaya de Silva departed, Nissanka carried on and made his way to a fine knock of 67 from 45 deliveries. Sri Lanka were 118/4 when Nissanka departed and things started going haywire after that as they scored only 23 runs from their last 27 deliveries in the innings.
The England bowlers clawed their way back into the game after a difficult start and kept the target within a chaseable limit. Mark Wood (3-26) claimed three wickets, while Ben Stokes (1-24), Chris Woakes (1-24), Sam Curran (1-27) and Adil Rashid (1-16) took one each for England.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 141/8 in 20 overs (Pathum Nissanka 67; Mark Wood 3-26) lost to England 144/6 in 19.4 overs (Alex Hales 47, Ben Stokes 42; Wanindu Hasaranga 2-23, Dhananjaya de Silva 2-24) by 4 wickets.