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England wins by 26 runs, but not before scared by Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka went down to England by 26 runs in a crunch Group 1 game of the seventh edition of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, in a contest the Lankans had the high riding English in a spin at 47 for 3 on a slow wobbly wicket before breaking free on Player of the Match Jos Butler century 101 off 67 (6×4, 6×6) exploiting the change to all pace in riding out of danger to 163 for 4 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. It put paid to Sri Lanka’s semi-final chances following a fight back by the middle order fronted by Bhanuka Rajapaksa (26 off 18), skipper Dasun Shanaka 26 off 25 and Wanindu Hasaranga 34 off 21.

England’s ruthless unbeaten ride of three straight wins was in trouble for the first time in the championship when Sri Lanka’s champion spinner Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva struck two quick blows  knocking back Jason Roy’s off stump with only his second delivery for 9  -13 for 1 in 1.2, and trapping Jonny Bairstow leg before wicket for a first ball duck  after in between Dushmantha Chameera bowled Dawid Malan for 6 – 34 for 2 after 4.6. Hasaranga’s strike two deliveries later had England wobbling on 3 for 35 after 5.2 overs as the Hasaranga-Maheesh Theekshana all spin attack applied the brakes. The seamers too offered no width by low bouncing short of length stuff that pegged England for once in a sweat at 47 for 3 by the 10-over halfway mark – their lowest total since 2014 at the hands of the Netherlands. But the change to all pace proved to be the Lankans undoing as Jos Butler  

But Sri Lanka’s seamers opting for fuller length was the undoing turning point in the game as Jos Butler cut loose with Lahiru Kumara’s erring half volleys coming in for harsh treatment whuile skipper Dasun Shanaka’s 18th over proved costly Butler dispatching for six and four in that turnaround. An out of form England captain Morgan (40 off 36, 1×4, 3×6) progressively found his feet as the fourth wicket pair realised 112 runs in a final flourish. He was cleaned up by Hasaranga who finished with 3 for 21.

Sri Lanka’s run chase was not helped by the dew with Moeen Ali, operating the first over that saw Pathum Nissanka run himself out in the third ball of the innings. The advent of Charith Asalanka saw the left-hander take the attack to England blunting Chris Woakes. It prompted the England captain to change to spin in Adil Rashid which paid off with Asalanka holing out to Ali for 21 off 16 (3×4, 1×6) – 2 for 24 after 3.3 – followed by Kusal Janith Perera  held by Morgan in the covers for 7 3 for 34 after 5.1).  Avishka Fernando made 13 off 14 fourth out leg before wicket to Chris Jordan making it 4 for 57 after 8.3 before Bhanuka Rajapaksa and skipper Dasun Shanaka took the score to 76 when Rajapaksa was fifth out for 26 to Woakes caught by Roy going for a big hit. His brief cameo contained 2 sixes and 2 boundaries having slammed Woakes for six over the sightscreen and Liam Livingstone for six and four in consecutive balls.

With Sri Lanka just past the halfway mark and needing 84 to win off 55 balls Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga fronted a fight back adding 53 for the sixth wicket off 30 when Hasaranga fell for 34 off (3×4, 1×6) and the fight was good as over with Sri Lanka on 6 for 129 after 16.5. Shanaka was run out (2×4, 1×6) as England ran through the rest of the innings with an over to spare.

CHIEF SCORES:

England 163/4 (20 Overs)

(Jos Butler 67, Eoin Morgan 40, Wanindu Hasaranga 3/21) RR: 8.15

Sri Lanka 137 (19 Overs) RR: 7.21

(Wanindu Hasaranga 34, Bhanuka Rajapaksa 26, Dasun Shanaka 25, Avishka Fernando 13, Moeen Ali 2/15, Adil Rashid 2/19,  Chris Jordan 2/24)

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