Angelo Mathews blazed with determination, his counter-attacking prowess keeping England on their toes till the last over. He, however, ran short of partners as Sri Lanka fell 10 runs short in a heart-stopping Super 10 Group 1 match of World Twenty20 at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Saturday.
The win sealed England a semifinal place but it came after weathering a brutal onslaught by Mathews (73 n.o., 54b, 3×4, 5×6) who brought Sri Lanka back from the dead and created possibilities of a sensational turnaround. It was not to be, and the defending champions bowed out along with South Africa.
England, put into bat, scored in partnerships to stave off the spin challenge posed by Sri Lanka on a slow pitch to score 171/4 in 20 overs. Chasing, Sri Lanka were off to a terrible start to be cut down to 15/4 by the third over but Mathews’ lone charge reduced the equation to 22 off the last two overs.
It took a brilliant last two overs from England to stop Mathews and also Sri Lanka from blowing the English hopes. Chris Jordan, bowling the 19th over, conceded only seven runs besides picking the wickets of Dasun Shanaka and Rangana Herath. With Sri Lanka needing 15 off the last over, it was Ben Stokes who fantastically rose to the occasion by allowing Sri Lanka just four runs.
Mathews cut a despondent figure at the end but it was his laudable effort which inserted life into the match which seemed to be going seamlessly in England’s favour. As the Sri Lankan innings plunged into darkness early, Mathews and Chamara Kapugedera with their 60-ball 80-run fifth-wicket partnership defied odds to set panic in the English ranks. But the England pace-battery of David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Chris Jordan (4-28) bowled with a lot of purpose to make it tough for the Sri Lankan batsmen. However, they were severely let down by their spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, the four overs between them bleeding 63 runs.
Plunkett separated the two when Kapugedera mishit to the midwicket before Jordan dismissed Perera and Shanaka, who was spectacularly caught by Joe Root at mid-off, to leave Mathews stranded.
Earlier, the England innings was fashioned by the 61-run second run partnership between Jason Roy and Joe Root before Jos Buttler (66 n.o, 37b, 8×4, 2×6) and captain Eoin Morgan put up 74 runs off 40 balls for the fourth wicket.
They saw off the overs of left-arm-spinner Herath and leg spinner Jeffery Vandersay before opening their arms to shred the Sri Lankan death bowling to pieces. With captain Mathews, Vandersay and Herath finishing off their quota of overs by the 15th over, England ran amok to amass 72 runs in the last five.
Buttler’s knock was the highlight of the England innings. He beautifully paced his innings and brought up his 28-ball 50 by hitting Shanaka for a six over long-on. His late charge proved vital to the England defence against a rampaging Mathews. (Deccan Herald)