England skipper Jos Buttler is delighted that Ben Stokes has found his form as the T20 World Cup approaches the business end, saying that the all-rounder can play a lot of roles in the side thanks to his talent.
After an underwhelming tournament so far, Stokes held his nerve through a middle-order collapse to lead England into the semifinals with a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka here on Saturday.
After a solid start by Buttler and Alex Hales, England batters lost the plot with half the side back in the dugout, largely due to mystery spinner Wanindu Hasaranga before Stokes took the former champion over the line.
“This kind of situation is what he’s made for and I’m delighted for him. While he’s at the crease, that gives you a sense of calm,” Buttler said a the post-match presentation.
“He can play a lot of roles. He affects the game in all three facets. He’s a proper competitor. Getting to this stage of the competition is where you just see him grow and grow.” Sri Lanka was off to a flyer on the back of Pathum Nissanka’s sizzling fifty before England bowlers roared back to restrict the Asia Cup champion below 150.
“They got off to a really good start, and we felt the wicket would play that way since it was a used wicket. But the way Adil Rashid got us back was wonderful.”
“Lot of people look at the end product with him, he doesn’t have the wickets but he has been bowling well.”
Young Sam Curran has been sensational at the death for England throughout the tournament, and the skipper was fulsome in his praise for the pacer and opener Hales.
“Sam keeps growing and growing, he’s a key member of this team and he likes to be in these tough moments. I think Alex (Hales) in that one over really took the game out of Sri Lanka.” England, which finished second in Group 1, will play its semifinal in Adelaide against winners of the second group.
“Excited to go there, we just needed to find a way to win today. Now it is time to go there and think about the semifinals,” Buttler added.
Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka felt his side’s chances of winning the title were derailed by multiple injuries to key players.
“I think we played good cricket in patches, but we had a few injuries which cost us the tournament. If not, we could have done better.
However, the skipper said there are a couple of areas that needed improvement.
“When we go home, we’ll have to polish up the areas where we didn’t do well. (Wanindu) Hasaranga and (Maheesh) Theekshana have bowled well throughout, but the other bowlers have struggled, today they bowled well but that is an area we have to improve.” “Catching has been a problem in this tournament, we need to go back and improve,” he added.
Leg spinner Adil Rashid was adjudged the player of the match for his brilliant 1/16, which included the all-important wicket of Pathum Nissanka, who was going hammer and tongs at the English bowlers.
“I think all the bowlers bowled well, Stokes, Wood, everyone. We got some assistance (spin and seam) from this wicket, you don’t get such assistance on Australian wickets.”
“I felt quite good, even before the tournament I was feeling good. I did my job and was focused on it, the rest is history. The pitch might spin, seam, you need to assess the conditions accordingly,” he added.