Ben Stokes powers England to T20 World Cup semi-finals after tense win over Sri Lanka

Title holders Australia knocked out of competition after Three Lions' victory in Sydney

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All-rounder Ben Stokes delivered with bat and ball when it mattered most as he helped England beat Sri Lanka in Sydney and secure qualification for the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Stokes opened the bowling and took 1-24 from his three overs, while excellent death bowling from Mark Wood (3-26) and Sam Curran helped restrict Sri Lanka to 141-8 on a slow pitch. He then hit a gutsy unbeaten 42 as England sealed a tense four-wicket win on Saturday.

England needed to win to make the last four from Group 1 alongside already-qualified New Zealand, and they achieved the feat with two balls to spare.

Australia had needed a Sri Lanka upset to keep alive their chance of progressing but those hopes looked to have been dashed when Pathum Nissanka was dismissed for 67 in the 16th over of the innings.

Nissanka clubbed Stokes for the first of his five sixes from the second ball of the innings and by the end of the 15th over Sri Lanka were 116-3 and looking good for a decent score at a ground where chasing can be hard.

Spinner Adil Rashid had Nissanka caught at the long on boundary by substitute fielder Chris Jordan to take his first wicket of the tournament and Sri Lanka fell apart, scoring 25 for five over the last five overs.

Openers Alex Hales and Jos Buttler put on 75 for the first wicket before the England captain was dismissed for 28 by Chamika Karunaratne's fine diving catch at deep midwicket off the bowling of Wanindu Hasaranga.

Hasaranga removed Hales caught and bowled for 47 soon afterwards before Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali followed cheaply to leave England wobbling on 111-5 in the 15th over.

Stokes, batting at three after Dawid Malan tweaked his groin during Sri Lanka's innings, was averaging 10.25 with the bat in five matches since his T20 recall but was once again England's saviour.

Stokes found the gaps and ran hard to finish unbeaten on 42 off 36 balls before Chris Woakes' cut for four got England over the line with four wickets and two balls to spare in a nail-biting finish.

"Didn't enjoy that match, how close it was," admitted skipper Buttler. "We just had to find a way to win that game.

"These situations are built for him [Stokes]," he added. "He can play a lot of roles for us in this T20 setup."

Man-of-the-match Rashid, whose spin kept Sri Lanka's batsmen at bay, was also full of praise for Test skipper Stokes.

"It was a tight game, it happens in T20 cricket," he said. "They bowled well and created pressure but Stokesy played magnificent so we got over the line."

Updated: November 05, 2022, 12:15 PM
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