21/04/2024

England have advanced to the semi-finals with a nail-biting performance against Sri Lanka with both bat and ball. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

England, thanks largely to the work of their bowling attack and Ben Stokes, has secured their spot in the semi-finals with a nail-biting win against Sri Lanka and in the process, sent the host nation Australia crashing out of the World Cup.

England left it to their last game in the Super 12 to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals. Only needing to be victorious against Sri Lanka, they chased down the runs with two balls to spare. Winning by four wickets at the SCG.

Needing to win to secure their ticket to the final four after Australia could only muster a four-run win over Afghanistan, keeping their net run rate inferior to Englands, Sri Lanka got off to a flying start with the bat after winning the toss, putting England on the back foot early.

Both Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis found the boundary with ease during the powerplay, finishing the powerplay at 1/54, and found themselves in a strong position at 2/80 at the halfway stage.

After a lacklustre start with the ball, their bowlers brought the game back with a great performance in the second half of the innings, taking 6/61 in the final 10 overs.

Only conceding a total of 25 runs in the last four overs, Sam Curran and Mark Wood once again showed why they are among the best white ball bowlers in the world. The pair currently ranks in the top two wicket-takers in the Super 12 stage. Along with the rest of Englands deep bowling attack, have been incredibly skilful and disciplined across the entire tournament. Rarely straying from their lines.

“They got off to a good start, but we came back strong, we stuck to our strengths. They were going well (in the powerplay), but that’s T20 cricket, things can change very quickly,” England spinner Adil Rashid said after his man of the match performance taking 1/16 off his four overs.

“The innings is not just five (overs). We had our self-belief. We are confident, we stick to our ways, get a wicket or two, and keep it tight, and the game changes. And that’s what happened,” he continued.

Ranked No.6 in the ICC T20I bowling rankings, Curran ended the innings with figures of 1/27. The third-generation cricketer has become a mainstay in the England side after missing last years tournament through injury.

After a disappointing first over where he conceded 17 runs, Mark Wood came back with vengeance. The fastest bowler in the tournament ended with 3/7 off his final two overs. Limiting the opposition to a conservative 141 runs.

Mark Wood of England bowls during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group 1 match between England and Sri Lanka at Sydney Cricket Ground on November 05, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

Eyeing victory, Alex Hales and captain Jos Butler took the game on in the powerplay. The openers reached 75 runs in seven overs, as it seemed the game would come to a close early. But, the SCG wicket had other plans.

Star leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga took back-to-back wickets in his first two overs, dismissing Butler and then Hales. After the powerplay, the Sri Lankan spinners tightened the game.

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Bowling a combined 13 overs, they took four wickets and conceded a mere 77 runs. Only letting in an average of 5.92 runs an over.

Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes of England celebrate Win over Sri Lanka during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Group 1 match between England and Sri Lanka at Sydney Cricket Ground on November 05, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

Following an injury to Dawid Malan in the field, Ben Stokes was elevated to first drop and played the anchor role to perfection. As wickets continued to fall he was able to keep the run rate ticking over. Stokes ended the innings with 42 runs off 36 balls.

“He’s obviously a match-winner. He wins matches for England, whether it’s Test matches, T20s, ODIs,” Rashid said about the all-rounder.

“Today was Stokes’ day with the bat. He’s knocked it off,”

England finishes second in Group A and will take on either India, Pakistan, or South Africa in the semi-final on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.

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