T20 World Cup: Stokes and Woakes get England over the line and into semi-finals

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Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes held their nerve to guide England to a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka and into the T20 World Cup semi-finals.

Boasting a better net run-rate than hosts Australia in Group 1, England knew victory would be enough at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday to see them progress alongside New Zealand at the expense of the reigning champions.

Matters looked bleak for Jos Buttler's team, however, when a sloppy opening seven overs bowlers allowed Sri Lanka to advance for 65-1, yet spearheaded by Mark Wood's 3-26 and Adil Rashid's 1-16 – his wicket being the dismissal of the excellent Pathum Nissanka (67) – England took seven wickets for just 76 runs for the remainder of the innings, limiting their opponents to 141-8.

England looked to be strolling to victory at 75-0 from the opening 43 deliveries, with Alex Hales and Buttler excelling in the power play before the latter succumbed to Wanindu Hasaranga.

Hales, whose 47 included eight boundaries, was caught and bowled by Hasaranga two overs later, with Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali falling in quick succession as England wobbled.

Sam Curran picked out Kasun Rajitha at fine leg to pile the pressure on, yet Stokes (42 not out) – so many times a hero – provided the composure, chipping away to leave England needing five runs from the final over.

It was Woakes who provided the final flourish, whipping a cut away to the boundary to ensure victory with two balls to spare.

England's redemption shot

Under Eoin Morgan, England reached the semi-finals of last year's T20 World Cup, only to fall short against New Zealand, who themselves were beaten by Australia in the final.

England – who have now won each of their last eight men's T20Is against Sri Lanka – will now face the winner of Group 2 for a place in the showpiece match this time around.

Pathum reaches Sri Lanka milestone

His knock might ultimately have proved fruitless, but it saw Pathum become the 10th Sri Lanka batter to accumulate 1,000 T20I runs, while he is the second-fastest to achieve the feat in terms of innings (after Kusal Perera).

Hasaranga also had a fine match with the ball, finishing with 2-23. It means he ends the tournament with 15 wickets, one short of his tally from the 2021 edition (16), which is the highest on record in the competition's history.