BEN STOKES kept his cool and guided England to victory over Sri Lanka and a place in the Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals.

Stokes remained strong during a dramatic England collapse that turned an apparent cruise to victory into a tense final few overs.


The Durham all-rounder finished 42 not out from 36 balls as England beat Sri Lanka by four wickets with two balls remaining.

So England emerge from Group One of the Super 12s on net run-rate and their semi-final will be in Adelaide on Thursday – most likely against India.

Their win has the delicious added bonus of knocking out hosts and reigning champs Australia from their own tournament.

Stokes has a relatively poor record for England in T20s but there are few better in tight situations in must-win matches.

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He was promoted to No3 because Dawid Malan tweaked a groin muscle in the field and don’t forget Stokes’ fielding has been superb and his bowling useful in this tournament – despite his wonky right knee requiring heavy strapping.

Openers Jos Buttler and Alex Hales broke the back of England’s chase and swept to 75-0 after 7.1 overs but, on a used pitch, Sri Lanka’s spinners started causing problems.

England succumbed to 111-5 and then 129-6 with the middle-order self-destructing and Malan unable to bat because of his injury.

England needed five from the final over and Chris Woakes completed the job with a square cut to the boundary.

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Captain Buttler said: “It got a bit close at the end. I’m not a great watcher so I didn’t enjoy it much. We had to find a way to win the game and thankfully we did that.

“It was the kind of situation that Ben Stokes is made for and, while he was at the crease, we had a sense of calm. He can play a lot of roles – he affects the game in all three facets and he’s a proper competitor.

“When we get to the later stages of competitions, you’ll see him grow and grow.”

Sri Lanka chose to bat because they believed the surface would become harder to bat on. And they made an electrifying start with Pathum Nissanka hoisting the second ball of the innings for six.




Then Kusal Mendis deposited Mark Wood’s opening delivery into the stand and Nissanka uppercut the final ball of the Durham speedster’s first over for another maximum.

Sri Lanka were going very nicely at 65-1 from seven overs. But their innings disintegrated after that with 76-7 coming from their final 13 overs and 25-5 off the last five.

Wood’s first over cost 17 runs but he finished with 3-26 while Adil Rashid, out of sorts recently, showed encouraging signs of a return to form with 1-16 from his four overs.

Rashid also equalled Chris Jordan’s record of 90 wickets for England in men’s T20s.

When Buttler and, especially, Hales blitzed the start of England’s reply, the game looked over. The 70 runs they plundered in the first six overs was the highest powerplay score in the tournament.

But some poor shot selection undermined England’s innings with Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali among those culpable.

Stokes stayed and, although it was not as epic as his innings in England’s 50-over World Cup final triumph in 2019, it was another show of determination and mental resilience against the white ball.

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Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood, sacked by England after their 4-0 Ashes hammering last winter, added: “I wish England all the luck – I have so many friends in their camp.

“There are a lot of good players in that England dressing room but Ben has been their talisman. Getting England over the line will do his confidence a lot of good.”

Here's how the action unfolded on our live blog…

  • Kieran Davies

    Ben steers England to success

    Cometh the moment, cometh the man.

    Ben Stokes stepped up when his side most needed him today.

  • Kieran Davies

    Semi-finals await Jos' England

    England now travel to Adelaide where they will play their semi-final.

    Adil Rashid was awarded the man of the match award today.

    Rashid ending up with figure of 1/16 from his 4 overs.

  • Kieran Davies

    Woakes punches England into semis

    With 2 runs needed from the last 3 balls, Chris Woakes opened his blade up to play the ball backward of square with the ball racing all the way to the boundary.

    After racing out of the traps in the first 10 overs of the game, England seemingly were making hard work of the run chase.

    With wickets falling at regular intervals, there were some worried faces on the England bench.

    Woakes and Stokes were able to see Joss Buttler's side through to the semi-finals.

  • Kieran Davies

    England win by 4 wickets

  • Kieran Davies

    England 137/6 (19 overs)

    England are looking take runs wherever they can find them now.

    Not a good time to bowl a full toss as Stokes slaps it towards the boundary, there is a fielder there so only the two runs.

    This over has relieved the pressure on England, some very loose deliveries.

    England need 5 runs from the last over.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 129/6 (18 overs)

    The very last ball of the over, a slower ball following Curran down the leg side.

    He looks to go big and gets caught on the fine leg boundary.

    England surely are not going to throw this away now.

    13 runs from 12 balls required.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Sam Curran (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 127/5 (17 overs)

    Maheesh comes back on to try and make something happen.

    Sri Lanka are looking to attack now.

    England still seem content working the ball around for runs rather than going for the big hits.

    15 required from 18 balls now for England.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 121/5 (16 overs)

    After the start England made, nobody expect an ending as tense as this.

    Credit to the Sri Lankan players, they have not given up and taken their catches in the field.

    21 runs needed from 24 balls.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 113/5 (15 overs)

    Surely England are not going to blow this.

    Sam Curran comes into bat with the pressure on.

    Sri Lanka feel as though they are back in this game.

    The whole of Australia is sat on the edge of their seats.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Moeen Ali (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 110/4 (14 overs)

    Moeen Ali comes in for England.

    They are in danger of grasping defeat from the jaws of victory here.

    32 required from 36 balls.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Liam Livingstone (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 106/3 (13 overs)

    You could argue that Sri Lanka should have had another 30 odd runs from their innings.

    Had they scored this, England would be in a tricky situation right now.

    Instead, they are able to just nudge the ball around.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 98/3 (12 overs)

    If Sri Lanka can make another couple of breakthroughs, the will cause England some real concern.

    They are trying to push the ball around now, knowing they only need a run a ball.

    Just 5 runs from the over.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 93/3 (11 overs)

    Brook kind of gifted his wicket away there.

    Poor shot from the England batsman.

    If they are not careful, they are in danger of letting Sri Lanka back into this game.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Harry Brook (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 86/2 (10 overs)

    What a comedy of errors that was.

    47 not out and Hales goes for the big sweep.

    It hits the toe end of the bat and chips back up to the bowler.

    Second ball in and Brook is trying to reverse sweep.

    Very lucky to not see that one hit the stumps.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Alex Hales (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 82/1 (9 overs)

    Dhananjaya comes on to bowl.

    Looking to make something happen with some more spin.

    6 runs come from the over.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 76/1 (8 overs)

    Wanindu Hasaranga drifts one up and Buttler goes after it.

    Making up some ground in the field, Chamika takes a great catch out on the leg-side boundary at deep mid-wicket.

    Stokes comes in at number three after Malan seemingly tweaked his groin in the field.

  • Kieran Davies

    Wicket – Jos Buttler (England)

  • Kieran Davies

    England 74/0 (7 overs)

    Maheesh continues with his spell and his third over.

    Buttler works one away from his legs for a single.

    3 runs from the over from Maheesh.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 70/0 (6 overs)

    England are starting to pick up the pace now.

    Rajitha is going for some tap now from these two.

    Sri Lanka use a review for what seems like Hales just striking the ground on its way through.

    Wasted review by Sri Lanka.

    20 runs from the final over of the powerplay.

  • Kieran Davies

    England 50-0 (5 overs)

    Wanindu Hasaranga comes into the attack for Sri Lanka.

    Good footwork from Buttler gives him space to punch the ball through the covers for four.

    The England skipper finishes the over with a big six.

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