Winning takes England to the semi-finals, while hosts and defending champions Australia are eliminated.
England’s Ben Stokes held his nerve to lead his team to the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals with a hard-fought four-wicket victory over Sri Lanka, demolishing the hopes of defending champions Australia, whose title defense is now over.
Stokes went unbeaten in 42 in a game England needed to win to reach the Group 1 quarter-finals alongside already qualified New Zealand.
They got the victory in a nail-biting with two balls to spare. Had they lost, hosts Australia would have passed instead.
“It was a tight match. It happens in T20 cricket,” said man of the match Adil Rashid. “They shot well and created pressure, but Stokesy played great, so we got over the line, which is a good thing.”
Sri Lanka looked headed for a grand total as they made it to 80-2 after 10 overs, but the aggressive Pathum Nissanka was out for 67 and they collapsed at 141-8 with bowler Mark Wood winning 3-26.
In response, England raced to 75 without losing and looked headed for an easy win. But they collapsed to 111-5 under the pressure of Sri Lanka’s pivotal attack and went last.
The victory was not enough to dethrone New Zealand at the top of the table, with England having to settle for second.
Sri Lanka’s loss ended the tournament stutter for Australia, whose title defense never recovered after losing heavily to New Zealand on opening day and then having to share points with England due to rain.
“It was an unbelievable fight but we still could have done better on the batting side,” Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said. “Even the English batsmen struggled in the last half… When we go home we certainly have to polish the areas where we didn’t do well.”
Sri Lanka hasn’t beaten England in a T20 since 2014.
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