|ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Sharjah|
|England 163-4 (20 overs): Buttler 101* (67), Morgan 40 (36), Hasaranga 3-21|
|Sri Lanka 137 (19 overs): Hasaranga 34 (21), Moeen 2-15, Rashid 2-19|
|England won by 26 runs|
England all but secured their place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup as Jos Buttler’s sensational century set up a tense 26-run win over Sri Lanka.
Chasing 164 after Buttler’s 101 not out, Sri Lanka required just 34 from 20 balls to end England’s unbeaten start to the tournament.
But, with England battling the dew and the loss of Tymal Mills to injury, Jason Roy and Sam Billings combined for a fine relay catch on the boundary to dismiss Wanindu Hasaranga for 34.
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka, who put on 53 with Hasaranga, was brilliantly run out by a Buttler direct hit in the following over.
The final three wickets fell for three runs in seven balls as Sri Lanka were bowled out 137 in Sharjah.
It sealed England’s fourth victory from four games, one more comfortable than looked likely at times in both innings.
Buttler rescued an innings that was floundering at 35-3, reaching his maiden Twenty20 international hundred with a six off the final ball as England posted 163-4.
They remain top of Group 1 and, while Australia and South Africa could still join them on eight points, it would take an improbable swing of net run-rate for both sides to overtake them.
England meet South Africa in their final group game in Sharjah on Saturday, while Sri Lanka must rely on results going in the favour to have any chance of staying in the competition.
Sensational Buttler stars for England
England fans are used to spectacular things from Buttler in white-ball cricket – just two days ago he scored 71 not out from 32 balls against Australia – but this should go down as one of his greatest innings.
It was the epitome of absorbing pressure, finding rhythm and then exploding in attack – a complete contrast to his brutal, carefree hitting on Saturday.
After 38 balls Buttler had only 35 runs. His fifty, reached in 45 deliveries, was his slowest in T20s for England.
But he then attacked like few in the world can. He hit two sixes in the 15th over, both over long-off, to give impetus to an innings that was going nowhere at 47-3 at the halfway stage.
Buttler shared 112 with captain Eoin Morgan, who overcame his own slow start to make 40 from 36 balls.
In total Buttler hit six sixes, the last a full toss flicked over square leg which took him to three figures.
He became only the fourth man to hit a T20 hundred for England and joined women’s captain Heather Knight as the only England players to score centuries in all three formats.
England come through sternest test
So good has England’s form been in this World Cup – they swatted aside West Indies, Bangladesh and Australia – that the biggest concerns were whether they have had things too easy.
In this game they were truly tested and still came through, ultimately in convincing fashion.
It was the first time they have batted first in the tournament and, despite Roy and Dawid Malan being bowled for nine and six respectively and Jonny Bairstow falling lbw to Hasaranga for a golden duck, Buttler’s brilliance took them to an imposing score.
Other teams in this tournament, notably Australia against England and India against New Zealand, have made slow starts but failed to kick on. Buttler ensured England bucked that trend.
Sri Lanka too were forced to recover from 34-3 and 76-5, but as the wet ball skidded on Hasaranga, in particular, found boundaries easy to come by.
Morgan’s plans were complicated by the fact Mills left the field with a thigh injury in the 14th over.
The captain brought Liam Livingstone back for a crucial over – a decision rewarded by the Hasaranga wicket – and England’s fielding held firm when needed to remove any doubt over the outcome.
‘Exactly what we needed’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan: “I am incredibly proud of everything we’ve done tonight. The guys had to fight unbelievably hard.
“Tymal going down asked another questions of ourselves but I thought Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali stepped up unbelievably well to support the other guys with the ball.
“We’re delighted with the win and Sri Lanka have pushed us further than we’ve been pushed so far in this World Cup.”
England all-rounder Moeen Ali on BBC Test Match Special: “It’s exactly what we needed. A few things went against us, when it comes to the dew and Tymal getting injured. It was a great win in the end and another confidence booster.”
Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka: “The back 10 overs have been a concern for us all tournament but a lot of the guys are playing their first World Cup and the experience will benefit them.
“Six months ago we weren’t the same side and we’ve come a long way. I am really happy with the way the boys have been fighting and it will be really good for us in the future.”