England survives Lanka scare, sets semis date with NZ

England quelled a late fightback from Sri Lanka to collect a 10-run victory at the Ferozeshah Kotla and thereby booked a spot in the semifinals in the World Twenty20.

Chris Jordan (far right) took four wickets in his four overs.   -  AP

Jos Buttler was the man-oft-the-match for his 37-ball 66.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Going to the semifinal of the World T20, England has surely ticked most of the boxes. Most importantly, the side proved it had the bowlers to deal with pressure at the ‘death’. When a gallant Angelo Mathews was threatening to take away the match that looked like going England's way for the better part of the contest, the bowling of > Chris Jordan and > Ben Stokes should give skipper Eoin Morgan an added reason to be pleased to go with the relief of coming through a tough test.

> Full scorecard and ball-by-ball details

If Jordan struck four times, Stokes gave away just 19 runs, including just four in the final over when Mathews was looking for 15. As a result, England’s fast bowlers complimented its batsmen in scripting a crucial victory. But spare a thought for Mathews, who did his bit to help Lanka make a match of it but could not take the side past the finish-line. What looked like a walk on the park for England after it reduced Sri Lanka to 15 for four in its chase of 172, ended with just a 10-run victory. Read: >Mathews: Seniors did not step up

The margin did not matter as the victory gave England a ticket to the semifinal. The result also rendered Monday’s Sri Lanka-South Africa match meaningless. England now plays the all-conquering New Zealand for a place in the final. West Indies awaits the result of Sunday’s match between India and Australia to know its semi-final rival. In keeping with the significance of match, England batted in a business-like manner.

England kept wickets in hand and scripted a late surge to reach 171 for four in 20 overs. Importantly, it carried the momentum at the innings-break having smashed 72 runs in the last 30 deliveries. In fact, it was even better than the late-blitz that helped England set a challenging total and eventually win by 15 runs against Afghanistan here on Wednesday. The Lankan chase was in a mess once four wickets fell in the first three overs.

Steadied the ship

But the fifth-wicket pair of > Chamara Kapugedara and Angelo Mathews steadied the ship with a 60-ball 80-run stand that included 21 runs in an over from Adil Rashid that saw Mathews hit three sixes, Lanka was still way behind the required run-rate. After Kapugedara holed out to Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali went for 21 runs with Mathews hitting two successive sixes before Perera added one more.

After Perera’s exit, it was Dasun Shanaka who kept up the momentum with a 9-ball 15 before falling to a brilliant catch by Root off Jordan in the 19th over. In the final over, Lanka needed 15 off Stokes’ over but the Englishman kept Mathews in knots and conceded just four runs!

Earlier, if there was one singular factor that turned the match in England’s favour, it was Man-of-the-Match Jos Buttler’s methodical counter-attack. Buttler came good when England was in search of quick runs after the first 15 overs produced 99 runs. By this time, the well-set duo of Jason Roy and Joe Root had failed to deliver after promising a run-riot.

It was to the credit of Sri Lanka that left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay had done a fair job claiming three wickets between them at the cost of 53 runs in eight overs. Once Herath finished his spell in the 15th over, Lanka looked short of resources to keep the England batsmen in check. After Morgan started the blitz in the 16th over, Thisara Perera’s first that cost 18 runs, it was Buttler all the way. He moved from 23 to 63 in the next three overs, including two from Dushmantha Chameera, that produced 14, 15 and 15 runs. Morgan was run out in the last over before Stokes hit a last-ball six to sign off in style.

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