England needed to win to make the last four from Group one alongside already qualified New Zealand and they achieved the feat in a nail-biting finish with two balls to spare at the Sydney Cricket Ground. If they had lost, hosts Australia would have gone through
Ben Stokes enroute his 42 not out v Sri Lanka in Sydney. Pic/AFP
Ben Stokes hit a gutsy unbeaten 42 as England reached the T20 World Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a tense four-wicket win over Sri Lanka —and ended Australia’s title defence. England needed to win to make the last four from Group one alongside already qualified New Zealand and they achieved the feat in a nail-biting finish with two balls to spare at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
If they had lost, hosts Australia would have gone through. Sri Lanka looked on track for a big total when they reached 80-2 after 10 overs, but the aggressive Pathum Nissanka was out for 67 and the Asian champions crumbled to 141-8, with Mark Wood taking 3-26.
Collapse after brisk start
England raced to 75 without loss in reply and looked on track for an easy win. But they collapsed to 111-5 under pressure from the Sri Lankan spin attack and it went to the wire. “Didn’t enjoy that match, how close it was,” admitted skipper Jos Buttler. “We just had to find a way to win that game. “These situations are built for him [Stokes]. He can play a lot of roles for us in this T20 setup,” he added.
Man-of-the-match Adil Rashid, whose spin kept Sri Lanka’s batsmen at bay, was also full of praise for Test skipper Stokes. “It was a tight game, it happens in T20 cricket,” he said. “They bowled well and created pressure but Stokesy played magnificent so we got over the line.”
The victory was not enough to dethrone New Zealand at the top of the table with England settling for second and a semi-final in Adelaide. The fate of Group two will be determined on Sunday. Sri Lanka’s defeat ended Australia’s stuttering tournament, with their title defence never recovering after losing heavily to New Zealand on the opening day, then having to share the points with England due to rain.
SL skipper rues injuries
“I think the wicket played a part in this game, even the English batters struggled in the second half. I think we played good cricket in patches, but we had a few injuries which cost us the tournament,” said Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka.
Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat, keeping in mind that all matches won by the team batting first in Sydney.
Sri Lanka 141-8 in 20 overs (P Nissanka 67, B Rajapaksa 22; M Wood 3-26, A Rashid 1-16) lost to England 144-6 in 19.4 overs (A Hales 47, B Stokes 42*; W Hasaranga 2-23, L Kumara 2-24) by four wickets
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