Not long ago, Sri Lanka were crowned World T20 champions. England were humiliated by Holland and sent packing. How things change.
The Sri Lankans are a shadow of their former selves. They’ve lost far too much talent over the last eighteen months and the guys coming through don’t look much cop. They rely far too much on Angelo Mathews, their only remaining champion batsman.
England on the other hand are slowly getting there. We’re not the most talented team in the world, but Bayliss’ team look a hell of a lot better than the rabble assembled by Ashley Giles. Ok, the bowling isn’t great, but there’s enough batting flair to make us competitive.
Although our batsmen didn’t play their best today, they did just enough. We recovered from the early loss of Alex Hales, and a somewhat conservative approach in the middle-overs, to post 171-4.
Jason Roy and Joe Root didn’t play as aggressively as we’re accustomed to, but they at least provided Jos Buttler with a platform for some late pyrotechnics. I reckon Mumbai will be quite pleased with their latest recruit.
Most observers believed England’s total was about par. Did you think we’d defend it? I couldn’t make up my mind. I don’t have much faith in our bowlers, but Sri Lanka’s batting has been incredibly fragile in recent times. I sensed that Mathews, as always, would be the key man.
Thankfully the nerves were settled when the Lankans crumbled to 15-4. How incredibly generous of them. David Willey once again picked up a couple of valuable scalps. However, things didn’t quite go according to plan thereafter.
Kapugedera and Mathews got their team back into the contest with some extraordinary hitting. Rashid and Ali were really given the treatment. They simply didn’t look up to the task. Fortunately, however, the seamers just about managed to stem the flow. Just.
Although it wasn’t easy, England have reached the semi-finals. Hurrah! That in itself is an achievement for an inexperienced team playing in alien conditions.
Will we win the trophy from here? I severely doubt it. Our bowling probably isn’t good enough. Having said that, you’ve got to be in it to win it. And England are very much still in it. T20 is a funny old game.