|ICC T20 Men’s World Cup, Sharjah|
|England 163-4 (20 overs): Buttler 101 * (67), Morgan 40 (36), Hasaranga 3-21|
|Sri Lanka 137 (19 hours overtime): Hasaranga 34 (21), Moeen 2-15, Rashid 2-19|
|England won with 26 runs|
England almost secured their spot in the T20 World Championship semi-finals when Jos Buttler’s sensational century saw a thrilling win in 26 races against Sri Lanka.
In the hunt for 164 after Buttler’s 101 wasn’t knocked out, Sri Lanka only needed 34 balls out of 20 to finish England’s unbeaten start to the tournament.
But with England battling the rope and Tymal Mills injured, Jason Roy and Sam Billings combined for a fine season catch on the border to sack Wanindu Hasaranga for 34.
Sri Lanka’s c -tain Dasun Shanaka, who hung up with Hasaranga 53, was thwarted in the following over by a butler direct hit.
The last three wickets fell for three runs in seven balls when Sri Lanka was thrown in Sharjah 137.
It sealed England’s fourth win out of four games, one more comfortable in both innings than it looked at times.
Buttler saved an innings that stalled at 35-3 and hit his first international twenty-twenty-hundred with a six from the final ball when England posted 163-4.
They remain Group 1 leaders and while Australia and South Africa could still run into them by eight points, it would take an unlikely increase in net run rate for both sides to overtake them.
England will face South Africa in their final group match in Sharjah on Saturday, while Sri Lanka will have to rely on positive results to compete.
Sensational butler stars for England
England fans are used to spectacular things from Buttler in white ball cricket – two days ago he scored 71 not from 32 balls against Australia – but that would go down as one of his biggest innings.
It was the epitome of absorbing pressure, finding rhythm and then exploding on attack – in complete contrast to his brutal, carefree pounding on Saturday.
After 38 balls, Buttler only had 35 runs. His fifty, achieved in 45 deliveries, was his slowest in T20 for England.
But then he attacked in a way that few in the world can. He hit two sixes in the 15th over, both long-off, to give momentum to an innings that went nowhere at 47-3 at halftime.
Buttler shared 112 with C -tain Eoin Morgan, who overcame his own slow start and made 40 out of 36 balls.
In total, Buttler hit six sixes, the last one a full toss over the square leg, which put him on three pieces.
He was only the fourth man to reach a T20 for England and, together with the women’s c -tain Heather Knight, was the only English player to score centuries in all three formats.
England passes the toughest test
England’s form was so good at this World Cup – knocking aside the West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia – that the biggest concern was whether it would be too easy for them.
In this game they were really tested and still prevailed, ultimately in a convincing way.
It was the first time they were beaten first at this tournament and although Roy and Dawid Malan were bowled for nine and six respectively and Jonny Bairstow fell with a pound against Hasaranga for a golden duck, Buttler’s brilliance brought them to an impressive result .
Other teams in the tournament, notably Australia versus England and India versus New Zealand, started slowly but got stuck. Buttler made England buck this trend.
Sri Lanka also had to recover from 34: 3 and 76: 5, but when the wet ball skidded, especially on Hasaranga, it was easy to find limits.
Morgan’s plans were complicated by the fact that Mills left the field with a hamstring injury in the 14th half.
The c -tain brought Liam Livingstone back for a decisive over – a decision that was rewarded by the Hasaranga wicket – and England’s field held when it was necessary to remove any doubt about the outcome.
‘Just what we needed’ – what they said
England’s C -tain Eoin Morgan: “I’m incredibly proud of everything we did tonight. The boys had to fight incredibly hard.
“Tymal, who went downstairs, asked us other questions, but I thought Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali did an amazing job of supporting the other guys with the ball.
“We are h -py about the victory and Sri Lanka pushed us further at this World Cup than before.”
England’s all-rounder Moeen Ali in the Test Match Special: “It’s exactly what we needed. A couple of things are against us in terms of the rope and Tymal’s injury. It was a great win and another confidence booster in the end.”
Sri Lanka’s C -tain Dasun Shanaka: “The back 10 overs was a problem for all of us, but a lot of the guys are playing their first World Cup and the experience will come in handy for them.
“Six months ago we weren’t the same team and we’ve come a long way. I’m very h -py with the way the guys fought and it will be really good for us in the future.”