England all rounder Ben Stokes scored a valuable unbeaten 42 to help his side reached the semifinals of the World Cup as they defeated Sri Lankan by 4 wickets at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. A crowd of 24,250 was present at the SCG for this clash- a decent figure but lower than the 30,351 for Pakistan vs South Africa and the 36,426 for India Netherlands at the same venue.
Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first, with openers Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis getting them to a quickfire start. The duo added 39 runs for the opening wicket before Mendis (18) pulled a short delivery from Chris Woakes to Liam Livingstone, who took a fine running catch.
Dhananjaya de Silva then holed out to Stokes at deep midwicket off Sam Curran for 9. Charith Asalanka (8) fell to Stokes, edging one to Dawid Malan at point.
Nissanka looked in fine touch as he reached his half century in just 33 balls. However just as he was threatening to take the game away from England, he skied a delivery from Adil Rashid to substitute Chris Jordan in deep.
Mark Wood then pegged the Lankans back with wickets of Dasun Shanaka (3), Bhanuka Rajapaksa (22) and Chamika Karunaratne (0) in quick succession as they were restricted to 141/8 in 20 overs.
It was a poor score for the Asia Cup champions given that they were 100 after 13 overs, managing less than a run a ball in the final seven.
Chasing 142, England got off to a fantastic start as openers Alex Hales and Jos Buttler added 75 for the opening wicket. However Hasaranga broke the stand by dismissing skipper Buttler (28), caught brilliantly by a diving Chamika Karunaratne at deep midwicket.
Hales (47) fell three run short of a well deserved half-century, as he attempted a slog-sweep off Hasaranga and chipped one back to the bowler.
The English side lost a bit of momentum as they crumbled from 82/2 to 111/5. However Stokes held his nerve and guided his team to a four wicket win. The victory also knocked defending champions Australia out of the World Cup, with England and the Black Caps advancing from Group 1.