Angelo Mathews played an incredibly gutsy innings for the Sri Lankans, who seemed to be down and out at one stage of the game, to give England a real scare in their Group 1 encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla earlier today. Mathews made 73 off 52 deliveries, to bring Sri Lanka to the brink of what would have been a record chase but England prevailed by 10 runs to knock both Sri Lanka and South Africa out of the tournament while booking their spot in the semi-finals of the World Twenty20.
Mathews won the toss and elected to field first, perhaps keeping in mind Sri Lanka’s lack of death bowling options. They opted to bombard the English with spin early on, bring on veteran Rangana Herath to open the bowling alongside Mathews and he produced a ripper first off, beating Alex Hales all ends up. Unable to get off strike, Hales tried an expansive sweep and was caught in front 3 deliveries later, to give Sri Lanka the early breakthrough they would have been hoping for. Joe Root then joined Jason Roy at the crease and the two batted sensibly to put on 61 off just over 8 overs to set a solid base to the England innings. Jeffrey Vandersay, who has really proved his worth over the last two performances, made the breakthrough in the 11th over when Root pulled a rank long-hop straight to the waiting hands of Lahiru Thririmanne at deep mid-wicket. English skipper Eoin Morgan pushed Jos Buttler ahead of him the batting order and the swashbuckling wicketkeeper did not disappoint, finding the boundary almost at will. Vandersay struck again in the13th over when he had Roy out LBW for 42. The batsman seemed livid at the umpire but replays showed that the right decision had been made.
Video – Angelo Matthews Innings – SL v ENG
By the 15 over mark, the Lankans would have been quite pleased with restricting England to 99/3. However in doing so, Mathews had bowled out himself as well as Herath and Vandersay. Thisara Perera was entrusted with the death bowling alongside Dushmantha Chameera and Mathews’ decision backfired as Perera went for 18 off the 16th over. It was all downhill from there as the Buttler took a liking to the medium pace on offer. Dasun Shanaka, who replaced Nuwan Kulasekara in the line-up for this game, was thrown in the deep end by Mathews, having to bowl the 18th over. He went for 15 as Buttler and Morgan took 72 off the last 5 overs. Buttler finished unbeaten on 66 off 37 deliveries; his innings included 8 fours and two massive sixes, leading England to 171/5.
Sri Lanka’s fielding seemed better than it had been during the past few games but they will still rue the fact that they leaked so many runs in the death overs. Vandersay was impressive once again, picking up 2/26 while Herath finished with 1/27.