Defiant Mathews falls short as England reach semis

England 171 for 4 (Buttler 66*, Roy 42) beat Sri Lanka 161 for 8 (Mathews 73*, Jordan 4-28) by 10 runs
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No country has ever successfully defended a World Twenty20 title so Sri Lanka are hardly alone in their mortification, but they crashed out in heartbreaking fashion in Delhi when they crumbled to a 10-run defeat against England in one of the most memorable games of the tournament.

Angelo Mathews is a Sri Lanka captain in challenging times, but his refusal to wilt reached heroic proportions. From the disarray of 15 for 4 in three overs, a target of 172 a world away, and with his first contribution to run out his batting partner, Lahiru Thirimanne, he summoned a muscular show of defiance, refusing to yield to the cruellest of hamstring injuries.

Mathews finished with 73 not out from 53 balls to show for his pain, his faith that he could turn the game only silenced by two excellent death overs from Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes, whose final onslaught of yorkers peppered the boots of an injured man and represented one of his most cool-headed overs in an England shirt.

So England qualified along with West Indies from Group 1, leaving India and Australia to fight out who will join New Zealand from Group 2. South Africa’s chances of progressing to the last four were also ended by England’s never-jangling victory, turning their final group game against Sri Lanka into a dead rubber.

Mathews began the resurrection by sharing a stand of 80 in 10 overs with Chamara Kapugedera, but by the time his half-century had slashed the requirement to 61 from five overs he was limping heavily with a tweaked hamstring that needed treatment from the physio.

It called for desperate measures. Sri Lanka’s spurt had begun with 21 off an over from Adil Rashid. Now Sri Lanka demolished Moeen for 21 more. In those two overs, Mathews cleared the boundary four of the six occasions. England’s four overs of spin cost 63 runs.

Kapugedera skied Liam Plunkett to Stokes, falling over at deep midwicket, Thisara Perera flared briefly before perishing at mid-off. A match that had been nip and tuck throughout edged towards England when Root dived high to his left at mid-off as Jordan silenced Dasun Shanaka with Sri Lanka needing 17 from nine. Jordan also bowled Herath – finishing with 4 for 28, his best T20I figures.

That left Stokes to defend 15 from the last over – with Mathews on strike and rain beginning to fall. Mathews, grimacing, might have been run out second ball but Willey’s throw was wide. He limped another two, Rashid getting a finger end on a chance at short fine leg. But Stokes ended the uncertainty in emphatic fashion.

More to follow…

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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