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Ben Stokes takes England into T20 World Cup semis as hosts Australia dumped out

Ben Stokes of England scored a valiant unbroken 42 as England defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets on Saturday to go to the T20 World Cup semi-finals and terminate Australia’s title defense.

England needed to win to advance from Group 1 together with already qualifying New Zealand, and they did so in a thrilling conclusion at Sydney Cricket Ground with two balls to spare (SCG).

Australia, the hosts, would have advanced if they had lost.

When Sri Lanka reached 80-2 after 10 overs, it appeared like they would post a large total. However, the aggressive Pathum Nissanka was dismissed for 67, and the Asian champions fell to 141-8. Mark Wood took 3-26.

In response, England sped to 75 points without a loss and appeared to be headed for an easy victory. However, they faltered to 111-5 against the spin attack from Sri Lanka, and the game ended in a tie.

Given how close it was, captain Jos Buttler said, “I didn’t enjoy that game.”

We simply had to figure out a method to win that game, he continued.

He continued, “These circumstances are designed for him [Stokes].” In this T20 arrangement, he can fill a variety of roles for us.

Man-of-the-match Adil Rashid, whose spin restrained Sri Lanka’s batters, was equally effusive in his appreciation for Stokes, the Test captain.

He explained that tight games are common in T20 cricket. They bowled effectively and put pressure on us, but Stokes played brilliantly.”

With New Zealand still in first place, England had to settle for second place and a spot in the Adelaide semifinals. On Sunday, Group 2’s future will be decided.

After losing badly to New Zealand on the first day of the competition and then having to share the points with England due to rain, Australia’s sputtering title defence was halted by Sri Lanka’s victory.

Dasun Shanaka, captain of Sri Lanka, remarked, “I think the wicket played a factor in this game, even the English hitters struggled in the second half.”

We had a few injuries, which cost us the tournament, but I thought we played some terrific cricket in spots, he claimed.

Runs flowing

Sri Lanka won the toss and requested that England field, knowing that the side batting first had won each of the previous five World Cup games at the SCG. Sri Lanka hasn’t defeated England in a T20 since 2014.

Nissanka lifted Stokes for a solid six off the second ball, and they made their intentions clear with two more sixes in the third over, both off Wood.

However, when Kusal Mendis (18) attempted another boundary from Chris Woakes and Liam Livingstone held a catch close to the ropes, the aggressive 39-run opening stand was over.

Although Dhananjaya de Silva (9) slogged at a slower Sam Curran delivery and was caught by Stokes, Nissanka continued to score runs.

At the midway point, Sri Lanka was 80-2, but Livingstone took a straightforward catch to dismiss Charith Asalanka (8).

Nissanka reached his second 50 of the competition and ninth overall, but Rashid’s tight bowling slowed the run rate and he ultimately bowled Nissanka out after a 45-ball innings, which he heaved to the replacement fielder Chris Jordan at long-on.

Only 25 runs were scored by Sri Lanka off the final five overs, and they never recovered.

In response, Alex Hales and Buttler scored 70 runs off a six-over powerplay while slamming 11 boundaries.

When Buttler (28) and Hales (47) were dismissed in the span of three overs due to the spin of Wanindu Hasaranga, Sri Lanka gained optimism.

Harry Brook (4) quickly followed, caught and bowled by De Silva, then Livingstone (4) carelessly threw his wicket away with a slog, and Moeen Ali (1) joined them back in the pavilion.

But Stokes kept his cool as the wickets tumbled and steered them into the last four alongside Woakes.

Neha Ayub
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