Since being blown away by the West Indies and Chris Gayle’s blistering century in their tournament opener, England have chased down a 230-run target against South Africa and recovered from 57-6 to beat Afghanistan going into Saturday’s do-or-die contest.
Having set the holders a stiff 172-run target, 2010 champions England seemed on top after reducing Sri Lanka to 15-4 inside three overs.
PHOTOS: England hold nerves in thriller
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews threatened to take the game away from England with an unbeaten 73 but Morgan’s side struck crucial blows to advance to the semi-final stage of the tournament at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
“It gives us a great deal of confidence,” Morgan said.
“In (previous wins) we’ve had to show an immense amount of character… today was completely different the way we were way ahead in the game when they were four-down early and then Angelo got them back into the game…
“A significant improvement on the Afghanistan game. It’s nice to see it build, go from strength to strength and game by game,” said Morgan.
After Jason Roy rebuilt England’s innings following the early dismissal of Alex Hales, Jos Buttler provided the late assault to help Morgan’s team post a strong 171-4.
When they came out to defend that total, David Willey (2-26) struck early, Chris Jordan claimed 4-28, Liam Plunkett dismissed the dangerous Chamara Kapugedera and Ben Stokes sent down a tidy final over.
Their talisman Joe Root scored 25 but took a stunning catch to send back Dasun Shanaka who, partnering Mathews, was threatening to take the game away from England.
The lone blemish in an otherwise complete display was the performance of the spin duo of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali who, between them, bled 63 runs in four wicketless overs.
Morgan said that was due to Mathews’ plan to attack them.
“I thought Angelo put himself in the best position possible towards the back end and in order to do that, he did what he had to do against the spinners.
“Bowling to a guy like that who has faced 30 balls already and is only after one agenda and with one mindset can be difficult.”