Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Hales celebrates after bringing up his maiden Twenty20 International century
England opener Alex Hales kept his team’s chances of progressing to the next round of the World Twenty20 alive after he hammered his maiden Twenty20 International century during a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in Chittagong.
Hales was well supported by batsman Eoin Morgan, who blazed his way to a quickfire half-century.
England captain Stuart Broad would have been beaming from ear to ear with his decision to bowl first as Sri Lanka opener Kusal Perera was caught behind off the bowling of Jade Dernbach for three runs.
Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan made up for the early loss of Perera was an outstanding 145-run partnership, during which both batsmen brought up their half-centuries, before Jayawardene was clean bowled by Chris Jordan for 89 off 51 balls, which included 11 boundaries and three sixes.
Jayawardene should have considered himself lucky not to be given out on the very first ball he faced as it seemed Michael Lumb took a brilliant diving catch at cover.
However, after numerous replays, the third umpire decided to give the batsman the benefit of the doubt.
Dilshan ended up making 55 off 47 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two sixes, before he was caught by Jordan at deep midwicket off the bowling of Dernbach.
Kumar Sangakkara failed to trouble the scorers as he was caught by Alex Hales at wide mid-off off the bowling of Jordan for a golden duck.
Thisara Perera smashed a quickfire 23 and Angelo Mathews walloped 11 runs off five balls to help Sri Lanka reach 189 off their 20 overs.
Dernbach and Jordan picked up two wickets each.
Chasing 190 to win, England got off to a horrible start as Lumb was clean bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara for a duck.
Kulasekara struck again the very next ball as Moeen Ali was caught by Sachithra Senanayake at second slip for a golden duck.
Morgan and Hales stabilised the innings with a vital 152-run partnership, during which both batsmen registered their half-centuries, before Morgan was caught by Mathews at long-on off the bowling of Kulasekara.
Morgan’s fantastic knock of 57 came off 38 balls and included seven boundaries and two sixes.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler only scored two runs before he was caught by Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal in the cover region off the bowling of Kulasekara.
However, from that point on it was all Hales as he recorded his maiden Twenty20 International century and led his team home with four balls to spare.
Hales finished unbeaten on 116 off 64 balls, which included 11 boundaries and six maximums.
Kulasekara took all four wickets.
Chandimal was disappointed to have lost the match, and said: “We started well thanks to Mahela and Dilshan. It was a good total, but it was difficult with the dew for our bowlers. We had two spinners, but they couldn’t grip the ball – especially Mendis. Not sure how serious Mahela’s injuy is. Alex batted really well, so did Morgan. We’ll have to pick up the pieces and get ready for the next game.”
Broad praised Hales for his breathtaking knock, and said: “That’s a very special knock and one of the best I’ve seen in an England shirt. World events are big and that kind of win will give our dressing room a lot of belief. I feel for Sri Lanka’s bowlers with the dew. We changed about four or five balls in the innings. We’ve been fielding with wet balls at training, we should probably make it wet bars of soap I think.
“The confidence we’ve got with the bat scoring 172 against New Zealand and this match today, we’ve got a lot of momentum. Alex’s knock is one of the best I’ve ever seen. He kept up with the asking rate throughout and hit boundaries at the end.”
Hales was named Man of the Match for his career-best innings, and said: “We weren’t in good form coming in, but we’re buzzing now. After two wickets we knew if we stayed in we were in the game. The way Morgy played was outstanding. Centuries in this format don’t come often. I’ve had a couple of 90s and it’s good to get over the line. It’s great to get on the board in the tournament. Without a shadow of a doubt it’s the best I’ve ever played.”