England hold nerve to beat Sri Lanka and reach semi-finals

Brave batting from Angelo Mathews not enough for defending champions

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews  dives successfully to make his ground  as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler tries to run him out. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews dives successfully to make his ground as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler tries to run him out. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

 

England held their nerve to beat Sri Lanka by 10 runs in a thrilling World Twenty20 Group One match in New Delhi on Saturday, reaching the semi-finals and knocking the defending champions out of the tournament.

Jos Buttler struck a blistering unbeaten 66 to power England to a commanding 171-4 after they had made a slow start.

The 2010 winners returned to blow away Sri Lanka’s top order before Angelo Mathews battled a hamstring injury to drag his team back into the match with a brilliant unbeaten 73.

Sri Lanka’s defeat also dashed South Africa’s hopes of qualifying for the last four.

Put in to bat, England lost Alex Hales in the second over but Jason Roy (42) and Joe Root (25) added 61 runs in 8.3 overs to steady the innings.

Leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay dismissed both batsmen but Buttler capitalised on the foundation, hitting eight fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 37-ball blitz to punish the Sri Lankans.

England skipper Eoin Morgan made 22 before being run out and Ben Stokes faced the final delivery of the innings from Thisara Perera which he hit for six.

Sri Lanka made a dismal start in their pursuit of a victory that would have kept their semi-final hopes alive.

Openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Dinesh Chandimal were dismissed inside the first eight deliveries and the top order caved in as Malinda Siriwardene and Lahiru Thirimanne fell off successive deliveries.

Mathews and Kapugedera revived the chase, however, mixing caution with aggression and smashing three sixes off an Adil Rashid over that produced 21 runs.

Perera scored 20 quick runs down the order but Mathews looked tired by the end and could only score four of the 15 runs required from the last over sent down by Stokes.

In the earlier game, New Zealand crushed Bangladesh by 75 runs in a Group Two match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata to maintain their 100 percent record and ensure their opponents exited the tournament without a win in the Super 10 stage.

New Zealand won the toss and skipper Kane Williamson, who opted to bat on a very dry pitch, struck five fours and a six in his 42 off 32 deliveries to guide his side to 145-8.

Williamson, whose captaincy and team selection have been one of the highlights of the tournament, brought in Nathan McCullum as an extra spinner in place of pacer Adam Milne, and watched his side stroll to an emphatic victory.

“I think going into each game we look to read the wicket as best we can, the opposition as best we can and pick the team that’s best suited,” Williamson told reporters.

“That’s what we’ve done today and we’re going to look to try and continue that.”

Paceman Mustafizur Rahman made life difficult for the Black Caps, taking five wickets for 22 runs, including two off consecutive deliveries in the final over, but ultimately Bangladesh had no answer for New Zealand’s prowess in the field.

Colin Munro set the tone in the second over, running out the in-form Tamim Iqbal on three with a direct hit from short third man and New Zealand picked up wickets at regular intervals to dismiss Bangladesh for 70, their lowest total in Twenty20 internationals.

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