‘Didn’t enjoy it that much!’: Jos Buttler admits he was nervous as his side worked hard to chase 142 against Sri Lanka… the T20 Cricket World Cup
- England defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets to reach the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup
- Captain Jos Buttler claimed all-rounder Ben Stokes gives him a ‘sense of calm’
- Stokes kept the ship steady and led England through a shaky middle order
- England will learn who they face after the Group 2 climax on Sunday
Jos Buttler was full of praise for his side after England knocked out Sri Lanka to reach the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup semi-finals, but admits it was difficult for even those on the bench to watch.
The England captain helped lead his side into the last four – at the expense of host and owner Australia – but they made hard work of what was a relatively underpowered score of 142 to win set by Sri Lanka.
But despite a middle-class wobble that has almost become a staple of English cricket clubs over formats in recent years, the arrival of Ben Stokes brought a ‘sense of calm’ to the captain’s nerves.
Jos Buttler praised Ben Stokes (L) after he helped England over the line against Sri Lanka
“I’m not a great viewer, so I didn’t enjoy it that much!” Buttler admitted after the match, talking to Michael Atherton on Sky. “We knew we had to find a way to win the game that comes here today, and luckily we did.
“These situations — that’s what (Stokes) is made for. I am very happy for him and while he is in the fold it gives you a sense of calm.
“He can play many roles, he influences the game in all three facets and he is a real competitor and it comes to this stage of the competition where you will just see him grow and grow.”
Stokes finished with a stunning 42* after a brilliant anchoring of the England innings late in the game
Jos Buttler set England on their way, with a stunning 28 from 23 balls on Saturday
England got into the game and only needed a win over Sri Lanka to get out of the group, after bad weather disrupted several previous games, bringing the pre-tournament favorites dangerously close to an early exit.
Adil Rashid was praised by Buttler after picking up the Player of the Match award
And after losing the toss, England narrowed their opponents down to 141-8, with Mark Wood taking the lead with the ball, finishing with numbers of 3-26.
Buttler and Alex Hales then ran out the blocks as they did against New Zealand last time, entering into 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 against, I thought that game where he really took the game away from Sri Lanka was also a huge turning point in the game.
“I think if we were there, one of us would have liked to stay in the game for the entire game.”
Hales reached eight limits on his way to 47 runs from 30 balls when he helped Buttler once again set the tone for England’s innings, taking his run count to 125 for the tournament.
But the skipper also called out Adil Rashid for praise. The right arm leg has come under strain lately after a string of difficult performances failed to live up to its own fantastic standards.
Alex Hales hit 47 out of 30 as England jump-started their pursuit at the SCG
Buttler wasted no time, however, turning to the Yorkshireman to halt the increasing stream of runs from Sri Lanka in the power play.
“I thought it was a fantastic transfer from Adil Rashid to the back of the power play to change the momentum – he is someone we always turn to and I was very happy with his performance.
“Maybe he didn’t take the wickets he usually does and I don’t think he bowled very lucky to be honest.
Mark Wood took two wickets in the final as Sri Lanka’s innings came to a halt
“He’s had some missed opportunities and I think he’s still bowling well. If you come across surfaces like that, he’s a difficult customer.’
England will have to wait for the final game of Group 2 before they know who they will face in the semi-final, but the captain insisted there was no fear or anxiety on his side before the match.
“Just excited – we wanted to find a way to win today, move on to a semi-final that’s really exciting and we’re going to go there and look forward to whoever we play in what is one of the best stadiums in the world.”
Chris Woakes (right) hit the winning line as England crossed the line