T20 World Cup | England beat Sri Lanka in semi-finals, defending champions Australia out

Sydney. The experience of Ben Stokes (42 not out) helped England reach the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup after beating Sri Lanka by four wickets in a crucial Group I match of Super-12 on Saturday to help hosts and defending champions Australia campaign in the group stage. It just ended. Sri Lanka got off to a great start with a brilliant half-century from opener Pathum Nisanka (67 off 45 balls). But the England bowlers came back and allowed him to score only 141 runs for eight wickets.

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Chasing this target on the dry SCG pitch, England opener Alex Hales (47 runs, 30 balls, seven fours, one six) and captain Jos Buttler (28 runs, 23 balls, two fours, one six) took the first wicket. Got off to a good start thanks to a 43-ball 75-run partnership. Then the team needed only 67 runs in 77 balls but Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva (2 for 23) started the wicket and within a short time half the England team had reached the pavilion.

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Hasaranga dismissed both the England openers within just seven runs, followed by Dhananjay de Silva (2 for 24) and Lahiru Kumara (2 for 24) taking wickets. England reshuffled the batting order due to injury to number three batsman David Malan (groin). The team needed 31 runs in 33 balls when Moeen Ali (1) became the second victim of Dhananjay de Silva. But England’s Test captain Stokes, playing with restraint, hit a four on the 36th ball of his innings to lead the team to victory with two balls to spare. In this, Chris Woakes (05 not out) supported him and shared a 15-run partnership. The Super 12 match between two Ashes rival teams Australia and England was washed out due to rain. This ended Australia’s campaign on seven points in the group stage as their hopes rested on Sri Lanka’s win over England. England finished second in Group I behind New Zealand and will now face the top team in Group II in the last four. Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat and Nisanka got off to a good start with a 33-ball fifty.

The stylish opener smashed five sixes and two fours in 45 balls to tear down England’s attack. But leg-spinner Adil Rashid (1 for 16 in four overs) changed the course by taking the first wicket of the tournament in the form of Nisanka. Fast bowler Sam Curran (1 for 27 in his four overs) bowled a tight spell in the middle overs to put a check on the Sri Lankan team’s run-rate, which was chasing more than eight runs per over. Sri Lanka bore the brunt of the lack of a ‘powerhitter’ down the order as the ‘boundary’ hit stopped and the team could add only 25 runs in the last five overs and lost five wickets in the process. England pacer Mark Wood also came back from a poor start with three wickets for 26 runs to make Sri Lanka 15-20 runs short. England’s Test captain Ben Stokes started with the new ball as Sri Lankan openers Kusal Mendis and Nisanka also got off to a cautious start.

Skipper Jos Buttler put Wood on the bowling in the third over and Mendis hit a six at deep square leg off his very first ball. Nisanka also made another six in the same over, adding 17 runs in this over. But Liam Livingstone finished Mendis’ innings by taking a brilliant catch, who added 18 runs in 14 balls with a four and a six.

When Rashid came out to bowl, Sri Lanka’s run-rate slowed down and wickets kept falling at the other end but Nisanka persisted, who scored his second and ninth overall in the World Cup. But Rashid and Curran kept the Sri Lankan batting in check in the end with their variations. Nisanka was caught by substitute Chris Jordan in an attempt to play a shot at leg-spinner Rashid. Bhanuka Rajapaksa contributed 22 runs.

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