‘I didn’t enjoy it that much!’: Jos Buttler admits feeling nervous as his side made hard work chasing 142 against Sri Lanka… but hails Ben Stokes’ ‘calm’ influence at the death as England reach semi-finals of the T20 Cricket World Cup
- England beat Sri Lanka by four wickets to reach the Cricket World Cup semifinals
- Captain Jos Buttler claimed all-rounder Ben Stokes gives him a ‘sense of calm’
- Stokes steadied the ship and guided England through a middle-order wobble
- England will learn who they face after the culmination of Group 2 on Sunday
Jos Buttler was full of praise for his side after England saw off Sri Lanka to reach the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup semifinals, but admits that it was a tough watch even for those on the bench.
The England captain helped guide his side to the final four – at the expense of hosts and holders Australia – but they made hard work of what was a relatively below-par score of 142 to win, set by Sri Lanka.
But despite a middle-order wobble that has become almost a staple for England cricket sides across the formats in recent years, the arrival of Ben Stokes to the crease brought ‘a sense of calm’ to the captain’s nerves.
Jos Buttler praised Ben Stokes (L) after helping England over the line against Sri Lanka
‘I’m not a great watcher so I didn’t enjoy that much!’ admitted Buttler after the game, talking to Michael Atherton on Sky. ‘We knew we had to find a way to win the game coming here today, and thankfully we did that.
‘These situations – it’s what (Stokes is) made for. I’m delighted for him and while he’s at the crease it gives you 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 and it’s getting to this stage of the competition where you’ll just see him grow and grow.’
Stokes finished with a superb 42* after brilliantly anchoring England’s innings late in the game
Jos Buttler set England on their way, with a brilliant 28 off 23 balls on Saturday
England came into the game needing just a win over Sri Lanka to progress out of the group, after the poor weather disrupted several earlier games leaving the pre-tournament favourites dangerously close to an early exit.
Adil Rashid was praised by Buttler after picking up the Player of the Match award
And having lost the toss, England restricted their opponents to 141-8, with Mark Wood starring with the ball and ending with figures of 3-26.
Buttler and Alex Hales then raced out the blocks as they did against New Zealand last time out, putting on a 75-run partnership for the first wicket, and the captain believes his opening partner proved the difference early on.
‘I thought he played beautifully tonight, he’s such a tough guy to bowl at, I thought that one over where he really took the game away from Sri Lanka was a huge turning point in the match as well.
‘I think sitting there, one of us would’ve loved to be in the match all the way through.’
Hales hit eight boundaries on his way to 47 runs off 30 balls as he once again helped Buttler set the tone for Englands innings, and took his run count to 125 for the tournament.
But the skipper also singled out Adil Rashid for praise. The right-arm leggie has come under pressure of late after a string of trying performances have failed to live up to his own fantastic standards.
Alex Hales smashed 47 off 30 as England made a flying start to their chase at the SCG
However Buttler wasted no time in turning to the Yorkshireman to stem the increasing flow of runs from Sri Lanka inside the powerplay, showing faith in a bowler who is still one of the premier white ball spinners in the game.
‘I thought it was a fantastic over from Adil Rashid at the back end of the powerplay to change the momentum – he’s been someone who we always turn to and I was really pleased with his performance.
‘Maybe he hasn’t picked up the wickets he usually does and I don’t think he’s bowled with much luck to be honest.
Mark Wood took two wickets in the final over as Sri Lanka’s innings ground to a halt
‘He’s had a few chances that were missed and I think he’s still bowling well. When you get on surfaces like this he’s a tricky customer.’
England will have to wait for the final game of Group 2 before they learn who they will be facing in the semifinals, but the captain insisted that there was no fear or anxiety in his side ahead of the game.
‘Just excited – we wanted to find a way to win today, get through to a semifinal which is really exciting and we go there looking forward to whoever we’re playing at what is one of the best stadiums in the world.’
Chris Woakes (right) hit the winning boundary as England managed to get over the line
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