TWENTY20: BUTTLER BRUTALITY
CONSUMES SRI LANKA
Delhi: Jos Buttler’s late carnage and Sri Lanka’s crumbling top-order ensured England recorded a 10-run victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. This is despite a near-heroic batting effort from Angelo Mathews who dragged the game till the final over with his commendable, unbeaten essay off 73 from just 54 deliveries. The victory takes England to the last-four and brings down the curtains on Sri Lanka and South Africa’s campaign. After Joe Root and Jason Roy set England up, Buttler entered the stage and set it on fire with a 37-ball knock of 66, that included eight fours and two sixes. The big-hitting Englishman pleased the Delhi crowd by flexing his muscles and, in the process, gave a glimpse of what he will bring to the table in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Mumbai Indians, who snapped him up for INR 3.8 crore in the player auction. A determined Mathews was in no mood to throw in the towel and sent the England spinners on a leather hunt as he carted sixes at will. His vision and intention to pull off an exceptional run-chase was shared well by Chamara Kapugedara and Thisara Perera but the poor start by the top-order meant they were left far too many to get in the end.
Opting to field on winning the toss, Mathews shared the new ball with Rangana Herath, as the 38-year-old wily spinner opened up Alex Hales with his first delivery, from round the stumps, that held its line. The England opener, who returned to the side after nursing a back injury, was trapped leg before in the same over and trudged back to the hut for a four-ball duck. Root and Roy came together to ride the spin wave as Mathews unleashed Jeffrey Vandersay, the leg spinner, from the other end. Roy particularly looked all at sea against the fuller deliveries bowled stump-to-stump and the many variations, but survived, to put away balls that offered him a bit of room to chance his arms. The spinners operated on a very small margin of error as Roy used his bottom hand well to play late on a few drives through covers. Roy and Root did well to steer England clear of yet another batting collapse as Sri Lanka continued to knock on the doors for a breakthrough. When it eventually came, both the set batsmen walked back in the space of 17 deliveries, falling to Vandersay. England then saw a brief lull of two overs as Sri Lanka looked to tighten the screws further. To keep out hitters of Buttler and Eoin Morgan’s reputation, however, was not going to be straightforward. Morgan took Thisara Perera apart in an over that produced 16 runs while Buttler carted three successive boundaries off Chameera as England turned the tables on Sri Lanka again.
Buttler was particular merciless as the Sri Lankan pacers erred in their quest to dish out yorkers and offered full tosses instead. Dasun Shanaka, who was picked ahead of Nuwan Kulasekara, offered two more and the willow was dutifully wielded to great effect. The first was whacked over extra cover for four while the second was sent soaring over long off for a six, allowing Buttler to bring up a 28-ball fifty. Buttler finished on a 37-ball 66 as England smashed 72 runs off the last 30 deliveries to post a daunting target for the defending champions. - TNN