A remarkable unbeaten century from Alex Hales has kept England’s hopes of lifting the World Twenty20 cup alive as he blasted 116 to beat Sri Lanka by six wickets.
An explosive innings from the opener rescued England who looked down and out of the tournament whilst struggling at 0-2, chasing 190 to win. He couldn’t have done it without a superb match changing partnership with Eoin Morgan who also smashed 57 as records were broken in Chittagong.
Hales became the first Englishman to hit a century in international T20 cricket while Ashley Giles’ men chased down their highest ever total in the 20-over format in an astonishing fight back.
Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali were dismissed in the opening over of the run chase but Hales structured his innings perfectly, ending on 116 not out from 64 balls which included six maximums and 11 boundaries while Ravi Bopara also helped guide England over the line with an 11 run cameo at the end.
That meant England skipper Stuart Broad was justified after winning the toss and inserting Sri Lanka who originally struggled to get to grips with the bowling in the opening few overs in Chittagong. Moeen Ali and Jade Dernbach opened the bowling and they only conceded four runs each from their first over.
However, Dernbach’s proved more successful after taking the wicket of Kusal Perera for just three with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler taking the catch behind the stumps before Sri Lanka started to take charge, with a little help from the umpires and dropped catches.
Broad’s men were very unlucky not to have their opponents stuttering at 4-2 after Mahela Jayawardene appeared to be caught by Michael Lumb off the bowling of Dernbach after a leading edge popped up to cover. However, controversy struck as the batsman didn’t leave the field and third umpire Steve Davis was called into action and deemed Lumb hadn’t taken the catch cleanly.
England didn’t react too well to the decision and their fielding started to let them down with Dernbach once again involved in the action by dropping Jayawardene whilst he was on 21. Tim Bresnan then dropped Tillakaratne Dilshan in the outfield with the score on 58-1 after eight overs whilst Jos Buttler had a chance to run Jayawardene out but missed the stumps as Sri Lanka raced past 100.
Things in the field were not getting easier for England and Dernbach was once again unfortunate not to pick up his second wicket with Bresnan giving Jayawardene another life as they moved onto 131-1 with five overs remaining.
England finally managed a breakthrough in the 17th over with Jayawardene eventually falling for 89 off 51 balls after Chris Jordan bowled him. That didn’t halt Sri Lanka’s progress though as they ended their innings on an imposing total of 189-4.
Dilshan was removed for 55 when Jordan caught him off Dernbach’s bowling as Jordan finished with the best figures of the Englishmen after removing Kumar Sangakkara for a golden duck to end with stats of 2-28 off four overs.
Six bowlers were used by Broad but strangely Ravi Bopara wasn’t one of them with his only noticeable contribution was a dropped catch in an unusually poor performance by England in the field.
Their fortunes continued with the bat as Lumb and Ali were both dismissed in a double wicket maiden from Nuwan Kulasekarara open the innings.
That brought Morgan to the crease to join Hales and they rebuilt the run chase magnificently, both passing 50 on their way to a 150 run partnership.
The 15th over was key to victory with 25 runs being smashed off it, Hales hit three maximums and one four with Morgan scoring a single but it wasn’t long before he was out for 57 off 38 balls. That brought Jos Buttler to the crease who only lasted three balls with Kulasekarara taking his fourth wicket of the game.
Bopara then came to the crease and guided his first two balls of his innings to the boundary off Lasith Malinga to set the platform for Hales who reached his century before whalloping his sixth maximum of the innings to win the game for England and set up a huge game against South Africa on Saturday.