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Home   /   England secure semi-final place with nervy victory over Sri Lanka

England secured their place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup with a nervy four run victory over Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Chris Woakes cut the ball to the boundary to give England the crucial victory that saw them finish second and qualify for the next round. New Zealand, Australia and England all finished on seven points from their five matches, so the group went down to net run rate to see who qualified for the next round; New Zealand won the group and England progressed through in second thanks to their superior net run rate to their arch rivals Australia. Jos Buttler’s side will now meet the winner of Group A in Adelaide for a place in the final.

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England looked in cruise control for the first half of their run chase and looked like they were going to ease to a victory that saw them qualify, with the three lions on 75 runs for no wickets after seven overs. Buttler and Alex Hales set the tone from the off to produce an excellent powerplay to settle the nerves and Australians would have been turning off their televisions. However, the captain departed for 28, caught on the boundary with an excellent catch by Wanindu Hasaranga and then Hales was caught and bowled by Hasaranga.

Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali all departed cheaply, which as usual left all the pressure on Ben Stokes to see his country home. The England test captain hit a brilliantly controlled 42 off 36 balls as he held his nerve as wickets tumbled around him to ensure England chased down the 142 they were set by Sri Lanka for victory. Stokes only scored two fours, but worked the field brilliantly with plenty of singles and two’s, as he backed up the good work done by the openers. Sam Curran stayed with Stokes for a little bit, but was caught on the fine leg boundary for 6, leaving Stokes and Woakes needing 12 runs off the last 13 balls.

England’s test captain is a man for the big occasion and is perfect for this sort of situation when the wicket is alow and wickets are falling. Buttler was delighted with his teammate and said, “He is a proper match winner and he showed that in a different way today.”

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England started the group shakily with a close victory over Afghanistan, then a shock five run defeat by DLS to Ireland and a no result against Australia, but they came back strongly with victory over New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Ultimately the hosts of the tournament were eliminated because they were obliterated in their first match against New Zealand and were not able to improve their run rate enough against Afghanistan and Ireland. There is something ironic about Aussie legend Mike Hussey helping to coach England to progress at the expense of his native country on home soil.

Both sides batting innings played out in similar fashion, scoring plenty of runs during the power play and then struggling to score in the middle overs as the pitch dries up. England looked in big trouble by the end of the power play, as Sri Lanka got off to a rapid start, ending the seventh over 65 runs for one wicket. Pathum Nissanka was the star of the innings, hitting a crucial 67 off 45 including five sixes, but it was a familiar story for Chris Silverwood’s side of falling short of the par score at the end of their innings.

England bowled brilliantly to limit Sri Lanka to 141 considering their first seven overs, keeping them at just 76 runs for seven wickets off their remaining 13 overs which was a phenomenal effort. Adil Rashid bowled brilliantly to drag back some momentum for his side, only conceding 16 runs from his four overs which was the lowest of all the bowlers. Rashid picked up the key wicket of Nissanka for 67, caught near the boundary by sub fielder Chris Jordan. The wicket meant that the spinner became the joint highest men’s T20 wicket taker with 90 wickets, level with Jordan.

Mark Wood’s first over went for 19 which seemed to anger the fast bowler as his pace just seemed to go up and up, helping him to take three wickets for 26 runs from his three overs which was remarkable after such a difficult start.

Curran has become England’s go to death bowler and he has not let the side down once. The left-armer has bowled 40 balls at the death across the four games, conceding just 32 runs and taking seven wickets. The Surrey all-rounder ended the game with excellent figures of 27 runs for one wicket across his four overs.

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Despite already being knocked out of the tournament, Sri Lanka made life very difficult for the batters, boyed by a raucous crowd. Hasaranga was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets for 24 runs from his four overs. Lahiru Kumara was a constant threat as well, taking two wickets for 24 runs from his three overs and four balls.

One concern for England will be the fitness of Dawid Malan who hobbled off in the first innings after tweaking his groin chasing the ball in the field. Malan is an important part of Buttler’s side as he allows the rest of the team to build the batting innings around him. Although the way that Stokes stepped into the number three role will ease fans worries, with Phil Salt also an option to come in.

England fell short at the semi-final stage at last year’s T20 World Cup in Abu Dhabi, losing to New Zealand and will be hoping they can go one step further this year. Australia’s elimination means that no host has ever won the tournament. Matthew Mott’s side will be confident they can beat anyone going through the rest of the tournament and pick up their first T20 World Cup win since 2010.

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May 2024