England topped Group A and will take on South Africa in the Champions Trophy semi-finals after Sri Lanka held their nerve to beat Australia by 20 runs and reach the last four in a dramatic finish at The Oval.
Alastair Cook’s side knew that if Australia reached 164 in reply to Sri Lanka’s 253 for eight it would ensure that they would win the group and face Group B runners-up South Africa at The Oval and avoid taking on world champions India in the last four, and just 20 runs ended up separating the two sides in a dramatic finish.
Mahela Jayawardene’s masterful 84 off 81 balls saw Angelo Mathews’s side set Australia 254 runs to win, but Australia imploded in reply and, despite an unlikely 41-run final wicket partnership that put the result in doubt, Sri Lanka became the fourth side to reach the semi-finals, where they will face India on Thursday.
Nuwan Kulasekara starred with the ball for Sri Lanka, finishing with figures of three for 42 as Australia's batsmen floundered with the exception of Adam Voges, who topscored for his side with 49 runs.
The match looked to be over after Voges departed with his side on just 192, but Clint McKay scored 30 in partnership with Xavier Doherty (15 not out) to silence the Sri Lanka supporters amid the tension with a stunning catch from Tillakaratne Dilshan finally allowing his side's nervous fans to celebrate in the 43rd over.
Earlier in the day, former captain Jayawardene shone for his unbeaten knock, which included 11 boundaries, with Lahiru Thirimanne providing fine support with a steady 57 before he became one of left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson's three wickets.
Jayawardene assumed responsibility for anchoring the innings and his 69th one-day fifty was packed with trademark wristy strokes as he became just the eighth batsman to score 11,000 runs in limited-overs internationals.
After Dilshan's blinding catch to end the match in thrilling fashion, the man-of-the-match Jayawardene said: "Winning this was the icing on the cake. We are playing hard and passionate cricket, but we need to enjoy the cricket.
"That has been the mantra of our success in the past and hope it continues in the future. Seniors have a responsibility and it is our job to help out, that makes us a happy camp. We are looking forward to another tough match in the semi-final."
The defeat brought to an abrupt end a hugely disappointing tournament for the defending champions, captained by George Bailey, after an opening loss to England was followed by a no result against New Zealand.
England sealed their progression through to the last four with a rain-affected victory over New Zealand at Cardiff on Sunday and the hosts will take on South Africa at The Oval just two matches away from a piece of silverware in what is a hectic Ashes summer.
Champions Trophy semi-final draw
England v South Africa – The Oval (Wednesday 19 June – 10:30 )
India v Sri Lanka – Sophia Gardens (Thursday 20 June – 10:30)
- Sports & Recreation
- Sri Lanka
- Mahela Jayawardene
- South Africa