Hales’ 116 guides England to victory over Sri Lanka

Chittagong, March 27: Opening batsman Alex Hales’ century inspired England to chase down Sri Lana’s monumental total of 189/4 with six wickets in hand in Group 1 of the ICC World Twenty20 at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium here Thursday.

Chasing a challenging target of 190, the 2010 edition champions England chased down their highest Twenty20 International target with four balls to spare with man of the man Hales scoring 116 not out.

With 23 required off two overs, Hales hammered 16 runs off the penultimate over bowled by Nuwan Kulasekara to completely take the pressure off England and then guide them to victory.

England had a disastrous start, losing Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali for a duck each in the first over itself. But Hales and Eoin Morgan (57) joined for a 152-run third-wicket partnership, the fourth highest in the format, to guide the team close to a win.

Though Morgan and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler (2) perished quickly with the score reading 156/4 in the 17th over, Hales took the mantle upon himself to score his first T20I ton, that too with a six.

With 7 required off the last over, Ravi Bopara (11 not out) gave Hales the strike with a single and the 25-year-old hammered a six over mid-wicket to score England their first of the tournament.

Kulasekara was the pick of the bowlers with his first spell reading beautiful figures of 3-1-16-4. But Hales made sure the pacer went back with 16 more runs added to his tally.

Earlier, Sri Lanka put up a dominant total for the English to chase. After losing opening batsman Kusal Perera (3) in the second over, Tillakaratne Dilshan (55) and Mahela Jayawardene (89) combined well to steady the Sri Lankan ship.

The two right handed veterans struck a fantastic 145-run second-wicket partnership to guide the island nation to 149/1 before Jayawardene fell in the 17th over. Dilshan also fell in the next over but they had done the job for their side.

Jayawardene, who will retire from T20Is after the tourney, hit a brilliant 89 off 51 deliveries at a staggering strike rate of 174.5. The 36-year-old struck well to hit 11 boundaries and three sixes off the English bowlers.

Thisara Perera (23 not out) hit a few lusty blows at the end to take Sri Lanka to a challenging total.

Pacers Jade Dernbach and Chris Jordan were the only England bowlers to take wickets, clinching two each.

Brief scores: Sri Lanka 189/4 in 20 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 89, Tillakaratne Dilshan 55, Thisara Perera 23; Chris Jordan 2/28, Jade Dernbach 2/42) lost to England 190/4 in 19.2 overs (Adam Hales 116 not out, Eoin Morgan 57, Ravi Bopara 11 not out; Nuwan Kulasekara 4/32).

IANS