A sensational century from Jos Buttler inspired England to a vital 26-run victory over Sri Lanka in Sharjah which practically confirms their spot in the semi-finals of the Men’s T20 World Cup.
After being put in by Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka, England lost Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow in quick succession to fall to 35 for 3. But Buttler and skipper Eoin Morgan initially steadied the ship and then went for broke, with the wicket-keeper leading the onslaught as the pair put on 112 in 13 overs.
Although Morgan was bowled by Wanindu Hasaranga in the penultimate over, Buttler saw England to a total of 163 for 4. Not only that but he completed his century with a six off the final ball to finish on 101 not out from just 67 balls.
He became only the fourth England player – after Alex Hales, Malan and Liam Livingstone – to register a three-figure score in a T20 international, and the first English batsman to score centuries in all three formats of the sport.
In response, Sri Lanka never looked likely to chase down the required 164, losing Pathum Nissanka to a needless run-out off the third ball of the opening over. They then lost Charith Asalanka, Kusal Perera and Avishka Fernando to leave them on 57/4 in only the ninth over.
Despite the further loss of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Shanaka and Hasaranga came together to make a game of it with a partnership of 53 from six overs until Hasaranga was caught in the deep by a relay from Roy to Sam Billings with Sri Lanka having closed to within 35 of the target with 20 balls remaining.
Buttler then capped his fantastic performance by running out Shanaka as he hastily left his ground and the Sri Lankans finally ran out of hope, their last five wickets falling for eight runs from 14 balls to end on 137 all out in 19 overs.
England can now only be denied a semi-final berth if they lose their final group game to South Africa and both Temba Bavuma’s side and Australia manage to overhaul their massive advantage on net run rate.
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