Stokes ushers England into semis

AFP / David Gray

All-rounder Ben Stokes brushed off an underwhelming run of form with the bat to usher England into the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup with a victory over Sri Lanka on Saturday.

A middle-order collapse had England wobbling in their pursuit of 142 for victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but Stokes's unbeaten 42 from 36 balls helped them safely across the line with two balls to spare.

"These situations, it's what he's made for, I'm delighted for him," said captain Jos Buttler.

"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, England's test captain, has sometimes struggled to impose himself on T20 cricket with the bat in the same way he has in other formats and had scored only 16 runs in his previous three innings at the tournament.

Saturday's innings were far from swashbuckling, with only two fours and no sixes, but it was exactly what England needed as the wickets tumbled at the other end.

England, champions in the 2010 edition of the tournament, now move on to a semi-final in Adelaide on Thursday, most likely against India or South Africa.

Sri Lanka coach Chris Silverwood, who led England until February this year, also thought Stokes might have found his batting form at just the right time.

"Ben has been the talisman over the last few years, hasn't he?" he told reporters. "I think getting the team over the line will build his confidence.

"It's all about peaking at the right time, really. So watch this space because you never really know, do you?"

 

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