Win sees England through to the semi-finals, while host nation and defending champions Australia are eliminated.
England’s Ben Stokes kept his spirits up to lead his team to the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals with a hard-fought four-wicket win over Sri Lanka, shattering the hopes of defending champions Australia, whose title defense is now over.
Stokes hit an unbeaten 42 in a match England had to win to make the last four of Group 1 alongside already qualified New Zealand.
They took the win in a nail-biting finish with two balls left. If they had lost, host nation Australia would have continued.
“It was a tight game. It happens in T20 cricket,” said player of the match Adil Rashid. “They bowled well and created pressure, but Stokesy played fantastic so we crossed the line, which is a good thing.”
Sri Lanka looked on track for a big total as they hit 80-2 after 10 overs, but the aggressive Pathum Nissanka was out for 67 and they crumbled to 141-8, with bowler Mark Wood taking 3-26.
In response, England raced to 75 without a loss and looked up to an easy win. But they dropped to 111-5 under the pressure of the Sri Lankan spin attack and it went to the wire.
The win was not enough to dethrone New Zealand at the top of the rankings, while England had to settle for second.
Sri Lanka’s defeat put an end to Australia’s stuttering tournament, with their title defense never recovering after losing heavily to New Zealand on opening day and then having to share points with England due to rain.
“It was a great fight, but we could have done better in the battle section,” said Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka. “Even the English batters had a hard time in the last part… When we go home, we definitely need to polish up the areas where we didn’t do well.”
Sri Lanka has not beaten England in a T20 since 2014.