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An extraordinary century by Alex Hales rescued England after they dropped several catches in the field as the team kept alive their bid to reach the World T20 semifinals with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Thursday. Hales lashed six sixes in a remarkable unbeaten 64-ball 116 in Bangladesh, the final one way over mid-wicket in the last over by Angelo Mathews giving his side victory with four balls to spare after being set a huge target of 190 in the Group One Super 10 clash.
Put in to bat at Chittagong’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Sri Lanka lost opener Kusal Perera in the second over but Mahela Jayawardene (89) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (55) cashed in on some dreadful fielding to steer their team to 189 for four.
England then made a woeful start to their reply, slumping to nought for two after paceman Nuwan Kulasekara removed Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali for ducks in the first over. Hales and Eoin Morgan (57) then produced a dazzling 152-run stand for the third wicket in 15.2 overs, dragging Stuart Broad’s side back into the match with some ferocious hitting.
Earlier, Jayawardene was on nought when he was lucky to be given not out by TV umpire Steve Davis after Lumb seemed to take a good diving catch at cover. To make it worse for England, Jade Dernbach spilled a catch offered by Jayawardene on 19 and Tim Bresnan dropped Dilshan as the Sri Lankan pair forged a 145-run partnership for the second wicket. Bresnan gave Jayawardene another life when he spilled a straightforward catch on the boundary in the 15th over.
The previously out-of-form Dilshan unfurled the famous ‘Dilscoop’ in the third over, bending forward to scoop a Bresnan delivery soaring over the wicketkeeper’s head for a massive six. Jayawardene was the more fluent of the two as England struggled to stem the flow of boundaries.
South Africa survived a major scare when they scrambled past rank outsiders Netherlands by six runs in a Group One Super 10 match in Bangladesh on Thursday. The Dutch, who posted the lowest T20 international score of 39 in Monday’s rout by Sri Lanka, looked ready to pull off the biggest upset of the tournament before imploding when set for victory.
Chasing 146 to win in Chittagong, opener Steven Myburgh (51) gave them a flying start as he thumped eight fours and two sixes in a 28-ball knock. However, after Myburgh played a ball from spinner JP Duminy on to his stumps the Dutch produced a series of rash shots and lost wickets at regular intervals.
Leg-spinner Imran Tahir claimed four for 21 while pace spearhead Dale Steyn picked up two for 19. “We obviously let this one go,” said Dutch captain Peter Borren at the presentation ceremony. “We played across the line to Tahir and you’ve got to play him a bit straighter.
“It’s a bit of a shame our batters couldn’t get the job done. As miffed as I am with the fact that we didn’t get over the line I am also proud with the way we stepped up after our game the other night.”
Earlier, Ahsan Malik’s five for 19 restricted South Africa to 145 for nine after they were put in to bat. Opener Hashim Amla gave South Africa a brisk start with 43 off 22 balls containing seven fours and a six.
They then lost wickets in clusters against Malik’s medium pace bowling and struggled for momentum towards the end of the innings.
“We are making it hard for ourselves. It’s a great sign when your side isn’t playing at 100 percent and you still manage to get across the line,” said South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, also referring to the tense two-run win over New Zealand. “We are playing at about 50-60 percent…that was a great fightback. Netherlands played fantastically today. They stepped up to the plate.”