New Delhi — Jos Buttler struck an unbeaten 66 and Chris Jordan grabbed 4-28 on Saturday to help England knock out defending champion Sri Lanka and advance to the World Twenty20 semifinals with a 10-run victory.
Buttler struck eight fours and two sixes in a blistering 37-ball innings that helped England reach 171-4 in its last Group 1 match, despite struggling at 99-3 off 15 overs after being put into bat.
Sri Lanka collapsed to 15-4 off three overs before captain Angelo Mathews led a spirited fightback with 73 not out before the innings ended on 161-8.
The game had looked in England’s control for much of Sri Lanka’s innings before Mathews clobbered five sixes and three fours off 54 balls to take his team to within striking distance.
England spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid conceded 63 runs between them in four overs — each going for 21 in one over — as Sri Lanka got back on track.
Mathews added 80 runs for the fifth wicket with Chamara Kapugedera (30) after Tillakaratne Dilshan (2) and Dinesh Chandimal (1) had failed.
With 22 runs needed off the last two overs, Jordan conceded just seven runs and took two wickets in the 19th over and Ben Stokes — who hit six valuable runs off his one ball as a batsman — conceded only four in the final over as Mathews decided to keep the strike and go for boundaries.
Mathews, who struggled to run toward the end with a hamstring injury, could only manage two sets of two runs in the over as Stokes fired in full-length deliveries.
“A little tight,” England captain Eoin Morgan said. “Taking those three or four wickets so early was fantastic. The seamers thrived in the conditions tonight.”
England, which needed a win to qualify after beating South Africa and Afghanistan and losing to group leader West Indies, made a steady start before Buttler got quick runs.
Coming in at No. 4, Buttler built on a fine 42 by Jason Roy as Sri Lanka ran out of ideas in the end overs.
England smashed 72 runs from its last five overs as Mathews used spinners Rangana Herath and Jeffrey Vandersay early on and had few options to stop the quick flow of runs.
Buttler struck his fourth T20 international half-century and added 74 runs for the key fourth wicket with Morgan (22).
Roy, who had struck 43 against South Africa, was not averse to playing the sweep or reverse-sweep early on. He hit three fours and two sixes during his 39-ball knock.
Roy added 61 for the second wicket with Joe Root (25) after Alex Hales, who returned after missing the last game against Afghanistan due to a stiff back, was trapped leg before wicket by left-arm spinner Herath before scoring.
Root pulled legspinner Jeffry Vandersay straight to deep mid-wicket when looking set for more while Roy too fell to the same bowler, given leg-before wicket trying to play a pull shot.
Sri Lanka, which lost to the West Indies and beat Afghanistan in other games, takes on South Africa in its last game. England’s victory means South Africa also cannot advance to the semifinals.
England will face New Zealand in the semifinals on Wednesday if West Indies beats Afghanistan in their group match. – AP/UNB