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Rediff.com  » Cricket » England's Hales storm sinks Sri Lanka

England's Hales storm sinks Sri Lanka

Last updated on: March 27, 2014 23:17 IST

Alex Hales hit a sensational unbeaten hundred as England pulled off a dramatic six-wicket win over Sri Lanka to throw open the Group I for semi-finals places in the ICC World Twenty20 in Chittagong on Thursday.

-Scorecard

Chasing a huge 190-run target, England rode on Hales' magnificent maiden T20 hundred to overhaul the target with four balls to spare after losing two wickets for no score in the first over.

In an extraordinary display of power hitting, Hales punished the Lankan bowlers with half-a-dozen sixes and 11 boundaries as his blistering 116-run knock came off just 64 balls. He finished the match with a huge six off Angelo Mathews to keep England afloat in the tournament.

Sri Lanka posted a huge 189 for four as Jayawardene came up with a blistering 89-run knock while Dilshan played a perfect second fiddle with a 47-ball 55 in their huge 145-run second-wicket partnership after being invited to bat.

England, who chose to field, were guilty of dropping at least four catches. Twice they let Jayawardene off the hook.

England could not have dreamt of a worse start as they lost Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali to Nuwan Kulasekara in the very first over, without a run on the board.

However, Hales and Eoin Morgan turned the match on its head with sensational hitting as the two batsmen joined hands to rattle up a 152-run stand for the third wicket.

They batted intelligently as they steadied the ship by rotating the strike and then hammered the Lankan bowlers around the park. It all started with Ajantha Mendis' over when Hales punished the spinner with two sixes and two fours as England creamed off 25 runs in the 15th over.

The contest became an edge-of-the-seat thriller as Kulasekara returned and again took two wickets in an over. He first dismissed Morgan and then scalped Joes Buttler (2).

Hales kept playing fearlessly and completed his century with a six off Kulasekara over the cover region and hit a massive six in the next ball to send the shock-waves in the Lankan camp.

They needed only seven off isx balls and Hales finished it off in style with a shot, soaring over deep midwicket into the stands.

England remain in fourth place with two points but they have played only two matches. Sri Lanka are on the top with four points from three matches, followed by South Africa (4) and New Zealand (2).

Earlier, Sri Lanka were off to a poor start when Kusal Perera (3) departed without contributing much in team's cause. The pitch was doing a bit for the pacemen but some sloppy fielding by England spoiled the chances created by bowlers.

Mahela Jayawardene played some delectable shots, specially the flicks off his legs, and together with opener Tillakaratne Dilshan steadied the innings. They did not set the field on fire but scored at a decent pace and kept wickets in hand, albeit, with contribution from the fielders.

Luck was on Jayawardene's side from the start as he was caught in the first ball he faced but was given not out as TV replays remained inconclusive about the clean catch.

Later, sloppy England fielder dropped him on scores of 19 and 80 as the Sri Lankan punished them 11 fours and three sixes.

Jayawardene had luck on his side as he got two reprives early in his innings. A catch of his in the very first ball he faced was not found clean by the umpires and when he was on 19, Jade Dernbach grassed the chance off Tim Bresnan.

Dilshan, uncharacteristically, was going just a run-a-ball. Trying to step it up, he smashed Stuart Broad to a mid-wicket six, in the eighth over and was dropped by Bresnan in square leg region off the same bowler. He was on 21 at that time. At half-way stage the Asian Champions were 70 for one.

Jayawardene took James Tredwell to the task as he hit the off-spinner two consecutive boundaries in the 11th over and for a six and four in his next and also completed his half-century.

Jayawardene, when on 80, was again dropped by Bresnan off Dernbach at sweeper cover when the Sri Lankan hit a low full toss on the off side straight to cover boundary.

Chris Jordan finally dismissed Jayawardene by castling him and Dilshan too followed him as Sri Lankans went for the kill.

Image: Alex Hales celebrates after reaching his hundred

Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images