England, on the brink of qualifying to the semi-finals, faced the first real test. Playing in Sharjah, they were up against a quality spin bowling line up of Sri Lanka. After losing the toss, England were sent into bat for the first time in this edition. The Sri Lankan bowlers justified their captain's decision to bowl first after reducing England to 36 for three in the powerplay. However, the England captain Eoin Morgan and vice-captain Jos Buttler, stitched a 112-run partnership for the fourth wicket to resurrect the innings. Buttler went on to register his maiden T20I century and helped England in posting 163/5.
Just like England, Sri Lanka also lost three wickets in the powerplay and another two within 11 overs. Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasarnaga added 53 runs together for the sixth wicket. Till the two were playing, Sri Lanka had an outside chance against a one bowler short England – Tymal Mills suffered quad issue in the 14th over. As they say one brings two, Sri Lanka lost their way after the dismissal of Hasaranga in the 17th over. The next four wickets fell in a span of eight runs and 13 balls. Hence, handing England their fourth win by 26 runs. Here are some notable stats from Match 29:
Hasaranga pips past Shamsi
One of the most valuable players for Sri Lanka in recent times, Hasaranga has had a sensational 2021 in T20Is. His two wickets in the powerplay saw his tally of wickets in this year rise to 33, which is the most for a bowler in a calendar year of T20I. Tabraiz Shamsi is closely following him with 32. His wicket of Morgan extended his count to 34 in 2021. Not only that, the England skippers wicket marked his 50th T20I wicket. By reaching the milestone in just 32 matches, he became the second quickest Sri Lankan and fourth overall in the format.
Stooped to a low
Suffering an early setback during the powerplay, England batsmen Buttler and Morgan found it difficult to take the innings forward with their conventional attacking instinct. The spinners of Sri Lanka were the root cause of it. Hence, England could score only 47 runs in the first half of their innings. Their score of 47/3 is the joint second lowest score for them in T20 WC in the first 10 overs (Both innings 20 over). However, they smashed 116 runs in the second half.
Buttler crawls to a fifty
Stranded at the other end, Buttler was helpless as wickets fell in a flurry in the first half. In an attempt to rebuild the innings, Buttler took the defensive option at the start. This is one of the reasons why he registered the slowest half-century for an England batsman in T20 WC. In addition, the 45-ball half-century is his slowest in T20Is. But, what happened after his fifty was sheer brilliance.
A century to remember
Despite registering the slowest half-century, the destructive opener unfurled his full array of strokes once he had the gauge of the pitch. After reaching his 50 in 45 balls, in the next 22 balls, Buttler raced to a century. He became the second England batsman to post a century in T20 WC after Alex Hales in 2014 against the same opposition in Chattogram. These are the only two centuries scored against Sri Lanka in T20 WC as well. In T20Is, he is the fourth England player to register a century in T20Is.
The first of a kind century
Buttler’s century against Sri Lanka registered many firsts for England. Firstly, he became the first all-format centurion for England. Second, he became the first England batsman to register a century in World Cups of both the formats (103 vs PAK in 2019 ODI WC). Technically speaking, he is the first ever batsman to register a century in ICC events of all the three formats. He scored 152 against Pakistan in Southampton in 2020 (ICC World Test Championship-1), his ODI WC century also came against Pakistan in 2019.
Morgan at the summit
With their fourth win on the trot, England are at the brink of a semi-final spot with eight points and +3.183 net run rate. The win against Sri Lanka registered the 43rd win for England under Morgan’s captaincy, including the two wins via a super over (against Pakistan in 2015 in Sharjah and against New Zealand in 2019 in Auckland). His 43 wins in T20Is is the most for a captain surpassing Asghar Afghan who retired in his previous match and MS Dhoni (42).
Wickets tumbling up top
In both the innings in Match 29, three wickets fell in the first six overs (36/3 – ENG and 40/3 – SL). In this edition of the World Cup, including the two innings, this was the 18th innings where three or more wickets fell in the field restrictions. This is the most number of innings where three or more wickets were witnessed in an edition of the World Cup. In the inaugural edition of T20 WC, there 16 innings of this feat.