Awesome Hales electrifies Chittagong

By Matthew Sherry

Alex Hales struck a stunning century as England produced a victory for the ages to get off the mark in the World Twenty20 against Sri Lanka.

Seemingly already beaten at nought for two in the first over of their pursuit of a team-record 190, England produced a stunning riposte as Eoin Morgan joined Hales in a partnership that will live long in the memory.

The pair put on a superb 152 to drag their side back into the contest, Morgan returning to form with a fine 57.

He departed, along with Jos Buttler in the 17th over, yet Ravi Bopara, with 11 not out, was on hand to help Hales see England over the line by six wickets.

The Nottinghamshire man, England’s first format centurion, ended on 116 from 64 balls, hitting 11 fours and six sixes.

Remarkably, he had not struck a maximum until the 15th over.

By that stage, the required run-rate was around 12 an over, with Morgan and Hales having steadied the ship remarkably.

The rebuild was required thanks to Nuwan Kulesekara, who bowled Michael Lumb and had Moeen Ali caught at second slip when England began their hunt to overhaul 189 for four.

The double-wicket maiden did not impact Hales, who chose a compact approach amid Morgan being the aggressor in a fine stand.

In and beyond 50, Hales finally let loose against Ajantha Mendis, pulling, slogging and slog-sweeping leg-side sixes in an over that brought 25.

With England suddenly ahead, Kulasekara struck twice in an over for the second time, Morgan hitting to long-on and Jos Buttler skying an attempted cut to cover.

Needing 32 off three overs, Stuart Broad’s men were aided by two clever guides through third man from Bopara as the crucial final Lasith Malinga set of six brought 11.

Hales then retook centre stage, driving Kulasekara over cover to bring up his century before adding a second successive six over midwicket.

He then finished the job in style, smiting Angelo Mathews over the saame to cap the most remarkable of innings.

Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene’s 89 left Sri Lanka seemingly in complete control.

The diminutive star, who could have been out first ball with replays proving inconclusive after Michael Lumb claimed a catch off Jade Dernbach, combined impressively with Tillakaratne Dilshan.

Dilshan chipped in with a composed 55, yet it proved in vain as Hales’ masterclass ensured England were right back in with a chance of qualification from Group One.

Match ScorecardBall-By-Ball Commentary

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Post-match Presentation

England captain Stuart Broad: “That’s a very special knock, the best I’ve seen in an England shirt this winter and one of the best I’ve ever seen. It was very special to see him take the responsibility. It will give our changing room a huge amount of belief. We will take a huge amount from today. We’ve got to win both of our remaining games (in the group) and I believe we can do that.”

Sri Lanka captain: Dinesh Chandimal: “Alex played really well, exceptionally well. Credit goes to him and Morgan. They batted exceptionally well.”

Beaming man-of-the-match Alex Hales: “It was a great win for us; we needed that and I am buzzing. It was a beautiful pitch. We knew if we stayed in the game, we had a chance. Morgan made my job a lot easier. I am buzzing with the century; they don’t come along in this format very often. I am pleased to get over the line today having got out in the nineties a couple of times. It’s without a shadow of a doubt the best I have ever played.”

England Innings

5.14pm – Mathews is tasked with the final set of six…

1st ball – Bopara gets s single from a clever slower ball. One hit…

2nd ball – AND THAT’S ALL IT TAKES!!!! Hales launches Mathews over midwicket as England get home with four balls to spare!

5.10pm – Okay, we’re going ball-by-ball of penultimate over

1st ball – Hales hits Kulasekara through the off side and scampers back for a second.

2nd ball – SIX AND A CENTURY – Hales crunches Kulasekara over cover for a six. His hundred is off 60 balls, featuring 11 fours and four maximums. First-ever England T20 centurion!!!

3rd ball – BIGGER, BIGGER, BIGGER. Hales smacks the next delivery over midwicket and England need nine off as many balls.

4th ball – A single. That’s all they need now.

5th ball – Bopara gets a single to long-on. Seven off seven.

6th ball – It’s a dot; good stuff from Kulasekara. England need seven off the last over. We’ll go ball-by-ball again above!

5.08pm – England take Malinga’s last over for 11 thanks, in the main, to a couple of brilliant guides through third man from Ravi Bopara. Twenty-three needed off two overs…

5pm – WICKET! Buttler c Chandimal b Kulasekara 2; England 156/4 – No heroics from Jos Buttler today. He skies an attempted cut and is caught at cover. England need 34 off three overs.

4.55pm – WICKET! Morgan c Mathews b Kulasekara 57; England 152/3 – There’s the wicket Sri Lanka needed as Morgan hits Kulasekara straight to long-on. It’s very tense now.

4.51pm – Clever from England, who are not over attacking Malinga. Hales gets four with a beautifully timed clip off his pads and the over brings a very impressive nine.

4.46pm – Here comes Malinga. Big moments await…

4.45pm – BOOM! Hales comes to the six-hitting party with a thumping pull, crunch over midwicket and slog-sweep off Mendis. He ends the over with a cover-driven four; it brought TWENTY-FIVE runs. England need 48 from 30 balls.

4.41pm – How are your nerves? Cracking response from England, who require 73 off six overs. 

4.38pm – FIFTY! Morgan (32b 7×4 2×6) – Morgan follows his partner’s lead and brings up the landmark with a reverse-swept four. To end the previous over, Hales had cut and pulled fours, the latter reaching the boundary after a drop from Mahela Jayawardene – who was forced to head off with a hand issue.

4.32pm – FIFTY! Hales (38b 7×4 0x6) – A fine half-century comes up for Hales, who powerfully cuts Thisara Perera for four.

4.27pm – Brilliant batting from Morgan, who creams Mendis over cover for six. He ends the over with a cut four, too.

4.22pm – That relieves it. England take Angelo Mathews for 16 in one over, with each batsman hitting a four to go with Morgan’s six over cow corner.

4.17pm – England are really struggling to get the ball away here as Sri Lanka apply pressure.

4.11pm – Fine stroke from Morgan, who reverse-sweeps Ajantha Mendis to the fence. He and Hales are rebuilding pretty well.

4.06pm – England are just 36 for two after six overs. Lots of work ahead.

3.57pm – Another couple of fours from Hales get England into a better position. Lasith Malinga then begins with an over that brings five runs, including an Eoin Morgan clipped four.

3.45pm – Alex Hales responds with successive driven boundaries through cover; England need a lot more of those.

3.41pm – WICKET! Moeen c Senanayake b Kulasekara 0; England 0/2 – A double-wicket maiden is completed when Moeen Ali edges straight to second slip. Kulasekara will be on a hat-trick at the start of his next over.

3.40pm – WICKET! Lumb b Kulasekara 0; Eng 0/1 – England make the worst possible start as Michael Lumb advances and is cleaned up by Nuwan Kulasekara. He preceded that wicket by beginning with four dot balls.

Sri Lanka Innings

3.25pm – END OF INNINGS! Sri Lanka 181/4; Perera 23, Mathews 5 – A dropped catch, this time by Ravi Bopara, and 16 runs – including a last-ball Angelo Mathews six – leaves England needing a record chase.

3.21pm – Brilliant over from Jordan, which brings just four runs and a wicket.

3.15pm – WICKET! Sangakkara c Hales b Jordan 0; Sri Lanka 169/4 – Jordan gets another one as Kumar Sangakkara skies an attempted big hit to mid-off.

3.13pm – Dernbach’s over still goes for 17 as Thisara Perera hits four over the off side and a six through midwicket.

3.08pm – WICKET! Dilshan c Jordan b Dernbach 55; SL 156/3 – After scooping the first delivery of Dernbach’s last over for four, the opener hits another slower ball straight to midwicket.

3.02pm – WICKET! Jayawardene b Jordan 89; SL 149/2 – Big wicket for England as they finally dislodge Jayawardene, who is cleaned up in the same Jordan over that brought a paddle-swept four.

2.58pm – FIFTY! Dilshan (44b 3×4 2×6) – He’s played second fiddle but Dilshan, who hasn’t looked fluent, brings up a determined half-century in an over that brings two fours.

2.50pm – Sri Lanka are 130 for one with five overs remaining. It’s damage limitation time for Broad et al.

2.40pm – A couple of effortless maximums from Jayawardene. He mixes those with the odd four.

2.32pm – FIFTY! Jayawardene (32b 8×4 1×6) – Brilliant from Jayawardene, who switch-hits Tredwell to the fence and brings up a half-century.

2.25pm – Ominous signs now for England as Jayawardene, in particular, continues to find the boundary with little trouble.

2.12pm – Prior to that missed chance, Dilshan had creamed Stuart Broad over midwicket for six. 

2.07pm – Chris Jordan and James Tredwell send down a solid over apiece; England will be wary of their opponents having so many wickets in hand, even at this stage.

1.55pm – MISSED CHANCE! – More frustration for England. In a Tim Bresnan over that sees Jayawardene pull a six and clip four, Dernbach drops a sitter to get rid of him off a top-edged pull.

1.52pm – Interesting over from Dernbach as he beats Jayawardene three times, yet also sees the diminutive operator aerially clip and upper-cut fours.

1.45pm – Good work from Sri Lanka, who find their response. After Jayawardene pulls the final ball of Dernbach’s over for four, Tillakaratne Dilshan scoops Tim Bresnan for six.

1.37pm – REVIEW! – Frustrating for England as they are denied a second wicket. Dernbach gets one to nip away, Mahela Jayawardene only manages a leading edge and Michael Lumb appears to take an absolutely brilliant catch diving forward. After numerous replays, third umpire Steve Davis decides it’s inconclusive and England miss out on a second wicket in as many balls.

1.35pm – WICKET! Perera c Buttler b Dernbach; SL 4/1 – Dream start for England as Jade Dernbach, having seen Moeen Ali’s opening over go for just four, has the dangerous Kusal Perera strangled down the leg side. Replays show the ball just missed the glove, but Perera has to go.

Pre-Play News 

1.03pm – ENGLAND WIN TOSS & BOWL – With dew and a strong bowling unit, Broad opts to send Sri Lanka in. Both teams are unchanged.

12.46pm – South Africa hold their nerve! Timm van der Gugten falls to Beuran Hendricks as the Proteas sneak home by six runs…

12.38pm – Oh, it just couldn’t be tighter. South Africa grab a crucial wicket and their opponents are nine down, needing 12 off 14 balls…

12.30pm – England are in the house in Chittagong, readying themselves for a meeting with the formidable Sri Lankans. Right now, an exciting finish is in the offing between South Africa and Netherlands, with the minnows eight down and requiring 18 off 24 balls. We’ll be here all day to take you through Stuart Broad and Co’s efforts to get off the mark in this year’s World Twenty20.

Fans can pre-order England’s new ICC T20 kit through the ECB’s online store

Waitrose are giving fans the chance to win 2 tickets to an England international this summer. Simply answer this simple question – Who are the current holders of the men’s ICC World T20? – via email including your name, address and phone number.

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