England edge Sri Lanka to book semi-final berth, Australia crash out

SYDNEY: England batters held their nerves calm to complete a tricky final-over run chase against the spirited Sri Lankan bowling attack and qualified for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 semi-finals.

With England booking their semi-final spot, the defending champions Australia failed to make it to the final four.

England were off to a flying start to their run chase as skipper Jos Buttler and Alex Hales laid a solid foundation with a magnificent 75-run partnership.

However, Wanindu Hasaranga’s twin strikes in his two consecutive overs halted England’s march to an easy victory as he removed both the openers.

Jos Buttler fell in the eighth over after scoring 28 off 23, while England’s top-scorer Hales narrowly missed his half-century and could score 47 off 30 deliveries, laced with seven boundaries and a six.

Following their dismissals, England ran into a frustrating collapse as they lost four wickets in a span of 53 deliveries for the addition of just 47 runs.

Ben Stokes, however, held his ground firmly in the nervy chase and guided his team to win with a 42 from 36 that only included two fours but kept the score ticking over until Chris Woakes’ cut for four with two balls remaining.

Following a decent performance from their bowlers, one of the tournament’s favourites England would now need to chase down the 142-run target to make their way to the semi-finals.

After opting to bat first in their last fixture of the ongoing mega event, Sri Lankan openers – Kusal Mendis and Pathum Nissanka – provided a decent start to lay the foundation for a competitive total as they added 39 runs at a rapid pace.

Amid the flying start, Mendis found it hard to charge on the English bowlers before falling short to Chris Woakes in the fourth over. He scored 18 off 14 balls.

Nissanka, on the other hand, batted brilliantly and went on to top score for his side with a magnificent half-century knock; scoring 67 off 45 deliveries, laced with two boundaries and five sixes.

Besides Nissanka, none of the Sri Lankan batters could make an impact against the strong English batting lineup and only Bhanuka Rajapaksa had a notable contribution of a run-a-ball 22.

Whereas, five of the Sri Lankan batters failed to amass double-figures and consequently, their side could score 141/8 in their quota of 20 overs.

Sri Lanka’s 141-run total is the lowest total by any team batting first at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Mark Wood led the bowling attack for England with three wickets despite going for 17 runs in his first over, while Sam Curran, Rashid Khan, Ben Stokes and Woakes struck out a batter each.