England stay perfect in Cardiff as Buttler helps see off Sri Lanka

By Sports Desk June 23, 2021

England maintained their 100 per cent record in Twenty20 games played at Sophia Gardens thanks to a resounding eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their series opener.

Jos Buttler made 68 not out as England made it seven wins from seven at the venue in Cardiff, this latest triumph sealed with 17 balls to spare as they easily overhauled Sri Lanka's below-par 129-7.

Jason Roy gave the chase a fast start with 36 from 22 deliveries in an 80-run opening stand with Buttler, who hit eight fours and a six during his 55-ball knock.

Wanindu Hasaranga did excel with the ball for the tourists, giving up just 12 runs in his four-over spell, while Isuru Udana bowled Dawid Malan for seven off 14 balls. Jonny Bairstow finished up unbeaten on 13.

Sri Lanka had earlier been indebted to a half-century from Dasun Shanaka, his second at international level in the format, having opted to bat first after winning the toss.

Danushka Gunathilaka made 19 at the top of the order and captain Kusal Perera contributed 30, but the tourists struggled for momentum as they slipped to 79-5 at the start of the 14th over.

Adil Rashid claimed 2-17 in four economical overs, while there was a wicket for Liam Livingstone too. Shanaka made sure Sri Lanka at least finished strongly, hitting three fours and a pair of sixes as 25 came from the final two overs, but their total was no problem for England's powerful batting line-up.


Opening role just perfect for Buttler

Buttler has made clear his desire to continue opening in T20 action for England - and the numbers support his case. This was his ninth half-century in 20 innings at the top of the order, with the milestone arriving from 38 balls with a pulled four to the square leg boundary.

Tourists toil again in format

Sri Lanka have lost 10 of their previous 11 completed T20 matches, a worrying run of form with a World Cup to come later in the year. They do not have to wait long for an opportunity to draw level in this series at least, as the teams meet again at the same venue on Thursday.

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    The loss leave the West Indies rooted at the bottom of the six-team table, with a net run rate of -2.550.  With only the top two teams set to advance to the final four, the Windies are already facing an uphill battle to move on to the next round.  

    “Well, we just have to do what it takes,” a dejected Pollard said following the team’s loss to South Africa.

    “We have to dig deeper as a team. We have to dig deeper as a batting unit,” he added.

    “We have to get wins on the board now. We’ve put ourselves in a position whereas from a run rate perspective that’s pretty low, and from a win percentage we haven’t won any games.

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    West Indies captain Kieron Pollard did not speculate on Quinton de Kock's refusal to take the knee, but suggested education is a major issue when it comes to the gesture.

    South Africa were without their talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman for Tuesday's T20 World Cup match, which they still won despite De Kock's absence.

    The Cricket South Africa (CSA) board on Monday decided that all players must take the knee before their remaining World Cup games, as a consistent and united stance against racism.

    De Kock has previously declined to make the gesture and opted not to play against the Windies at Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday following the demand from CSA.

    Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said South Africa players were "taken aback" by De Kock's decision, with the batsman unsure whether the former skipper will play any further part in the World Cup.

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    "I'm not aware of which individual you speak about, but I'm guessing afterwards someone will increase my knowledge capacity on what actually transpired."

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    Pollard hit three boundaries, including a six, in a knock of 26 from 20 deliveries against South Africa, as well as going for nine off the only over he bowled as holders the Windies slumped to a second defeat of the Super 12 after their capitulation against England.

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