Sharjah: A crucial unbeaten century from Jos Buttler set up England’s 26-run win over Sri Lanka in a Group 1 match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium here on Monday. With this win, England made it four out of four victories in the tournament and increased their chances of topping Group 1 as well as reaching the semi-finals.
Buttler’s unbeaten knock of 101 off 67 balls, laced with six fours and as many sixes, took England to 163/4 in 20 overs. In reply, Sri Lanka overcame an early wobble and looked set to chase the target. But England’s persistence with the ball, despite dew coming into play, meant that Sri Lanka were all out for 137 in 19 overs.
Sri Lanka got off to a poor start as they lost Pathum Nissanka on the third ball of the innings to a run-out. Charith Asalanka took a brace of boundaries against Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali in successive overs. But his joyride was cut short when he chipped an Adil Rashid googly to mid-off in the fourth over. Rashid came back in his next over to take out Kusal Perera, who miscued a googly to extra cover.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa hit Rashid inside-out for a four followed by hitting Liam Livingstone down the ground in the next over. He also got a reprieve from Woakes in the eighth over, dropping the catch at deep square leg. Though Avishka Fernando was trapped lbw by Chris Jordan in the ninth over, Rajapaksa didn’t stop his boundary spree. He pulled Woakes for a six followed by driving uppishly for four. But Woakes had the last laugh as Rajapaksa miscued the loft to long-on.
Wanindu Hasaranga and Dasun Shanaka had a stand of 53 off 36 balls for the sixth wicket. Liam Livingstone broke the stand in the 17th over as Hasaranga miscued the loft to a running Jason Roy at long-off, who tossed the ball to Sam Billings running from deep extra cover. Three balls later, Shanaka was run out by a terrific direct hit from Jos Buttler. Jordan and Moeen Ali wiped off the remaining wickets to seal the win with an over to spare.
Earlier, Buttler and Morgan shared a crucial 112-run stand to rescue England from 35/3 in 5.2 overs. England lost Jason Roy in the second over, going for a slog-sweep but saw his off-stump rattled by Hasaranga. Dushmantha Chameera got one to nip back in and knock off Dawid Malan’s stumps. In the final over of power-play, Hasaranga bagged his second wicket, trapping an advancing Jonny Bairstow plumb lbw in front of the stumps.
Buttler and Morgan took their time to counter a tricky phase. After playing out Maheesh Theekshana’s final over, Buttler took the centre stage with a seamless shift of gears. He began by taking Chamika Karunaratne for four followed by a six on the leg-side. In the next over, he reached his second half-century of the tournament in 45 balls. Morgan joined the party, taking a four off Hasaranga. Kumara’s 15th over yielded 22 runs, including three sixes, one from Morgan while Buttler hit two.
From there onwards, there was a steady flow of boundaries from Buttler’s and Morgan’s blades. Hasaranga scalped his third wicket in the 19th over as Morgan was bowled while sweeping across the line. Buttler took a four off the first ball of the final over. He was dropped on the third ball and reached the three-figure mark by flicking a six over deep backward square leg off Chameera on the final ball of the innings. Buttler accumulated the last 51 runs off just 22 balls, making him the first England men’s cricketer to get centuries in all three formats of the game.