England will contest Thursday’s T20 World Cup semi-final in Adelaide after a nervy four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in their final game of the Super 12s saw them pip Australia to second place in their group, but they may have to do so without Dawid Malan, whose future in the competition is in peril after he sustained a groin injury while fielding. The 35-year-old did not bat as England scored 144 for six, reaching their target with two balls remaining.
England will travel to Adelaide on Sunday, after which Malan will undergo tests to determine the severity of the injury. “It’s too early to tell,” captain Jos Buttler said, “but hopefully he’ll pull up well. He would have batted if he’d needed to. Running would have been difficult, but he would have gone out there.”
England battled back after conceding 54 runs in the powerplay to restrict Sri Lanka to 141, but after reaching 70 without loss by the end of the sixth over they also struggled, losing wickets and impetus until Ben Stokes, who scored a vital 42 from 36 balls, carried them over the line.
It was a potentially awkward occasion for Chris Silverwood, who started the year as England’s coach and now occupies the same position with Sri Lanka. “I didn’t feel anything to be honest,” he said of coming up against his former charges, but he also reported feeling little by way of tension as England struggled to get over the finish line.
“You have to say Ben had it under control,” he said. “Maybe if we’d got one more wicket it might have made things very interesting.”
As important as Stokes’s contribution at the end of England’s innings was Alex Hales’s at the start, the opener scoring 47 off 30 to quickly bring the required run rate below six an over.
“You could tell from the first innings that it was a lot easier to bat in the powerplay, so my gameplan was to get ahead of the game, try to kill it as much as possible, and look to be positive against the seamers,” he said. “Fortunately that plan worked.”
India are England’s likely opponents in the final four, needing to beat Zimbabwe in Melbourne on Sunday to win their group. An improvement on this performance will be necessary if England are to progress beyond the final four, but at least there is plenty of potential still untapped.
“I think our best game is ahead of us in the tournament,” Buttler said. “We can put in more complete performances than we have. We have done enough to get through, and now it’s about going to the real knockout stage and expressing ourselves.”