England v Sri Lanka, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong

Hales 'buzzing' after England's first T20 ton

Alan Gardner in Chittagong

March 27, 2014

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A
Alex Hales produces match-winning 116* v Sri Lanka

Alex Hales had no doubt that his match-winning hundred against Sri Lanka, the first time an England batsman had reached three figures in a T20 international, was the most important contribution of his international career to date. Hales' stunning innings led England to their highest chase in the format to reignite a smouldering World T20 campaign.

"It's an amazing feeling. It still hasn't sunk in what's happened," Hales said afterwards, looking remarkably cool despite having just launched an enormous six to win the match with four balls to spare. Twice out in the 90s previously, Hales broke the three-figure barrier by clearing the boundary off Nuwan Kulasekara's penultimate over, from which 16 runs came in total to bring England's target of 190 within reach.

"I always had the confidence I would get the chance again," he said. "Hundreds don't come around very often in the short format so I'm buzzing I got it today and in a huge fixture for our country."

Alex Hales was in blistering form, England v Sri Lanka, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong, March, 27, 2014
Alex Hales made England's first hundred in a T20 © Getty Images

After a shambolic performance in the field, when England dropped four catches and missed a run-out, they flopped out of the blocks at the start of the chase, Kulasekara removing Michael Lumb and Moeen Ali in a double-wicket maiden. Hales and Eoin Morgan, slowly at first and then with increasing assurance, rebuilt the innings and by the time their 152-run partnership was broken, the pendulum was beginning to swing England's way.

"It wasn't an ideal start but we saw by the way they batted it was an excellent wicket and the way Morgy came in straight away and took the game back to them made my job a lot easier," Hales said. "We had plans to stay in the game as long as we could, get a partnership and reassess at the halfway stage. It paid off."

Morgan and Jos Buttler fell in the same over but Ravi Bopara deftly glided his first two balls from Lasith Malinga for four to keep England up with the asking rate. Although they had needed to score two runs a ball for around half the innings, Hales said that he began to feel the victory was possible "with six or seven overs left".

"We needed about 12 an over so we always knew it would be a tough ask," he said. "But Morgy played brilliantly and then Ravi came in against the danger man Malinga and hit the first two balls for four. It was brilliant to see."

The win, against the No. 1-ranked side and one of the favourites for the competition, pushes England back into contention into what is turning into a close-fought group. A difficult winter in Australia has been followed by stop-start limited-overs form, a young and experimental squad disrupted by injuries while uncertainty remains about the currently vacant head coach's position. Reaching the knockout stages in Bangladesh would an unexpected, and welcome, success

"It would be massive for us, we are underdogs in this tournament, playing in the subcontinent historically we haven't gone too well," Hales said. "This win will help us build momentum for the next two games, we've still got to play Holland and SA. I think if we perform to the best of our ability we'll get two wins."

Hales was dropped by Mahela Jayawardene on 55, small change after England donated four similar straightforward misses during the Sri Lanka innings but ultimately of great importance. Two overs later, Hales targeted Ajantha Mendis repeatedly through the leg side, hitting three sixes in an over that cost 25. In 2014, Hales had previously made 125 runs in seven innings for England; he almost equalled that in one dramatic fusillade here. A celebratory glass of wine has been well earned.

"It hasn't been a great winter personally, I probably didn't do as well in the Big Bash as I'd have liked," Hales said. "But I've still felt confident, I've been hitting the ball well in the nets and felt a big score was close. I'm pleased it came today in a winning side."

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Guernica on (March 28, 2014, 16:56 GMT)

If England had not bowled and fielded so badly, Hales would not have had a chance to get a hundred. So while I was cursing them at the time, I'm now grateful for the blunders.

Posted by Rahulthevirufan on (March 28, 2014, 8:53 GMT)

dis win might just end up like Pakistan's win against lanka in CT 2006, where a Pak team in shambles thought dat d win might just lift dem up but it ended up as dere only win.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 8:25 GMT)

pls dont play ipl alex it will spoil u fr sure oly wen u re nt in form play ipl

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 6:16 GMT)

it was brilliant batting by Hales to make England's winning possible . Congratulation form Nepal.

Posted by Usmaan21 on (March 28, 2014, 5:30 GMT)

Tahir is a good addition in SA T20 squad. As 9/10 leading wicket takers in T20 are spinners so he may join that clan in near future. But he has to prove his potential against the BIG 3, specially in ODIs and Tests.

Posted by ianbellfan on (March 28, 2014, 5:16 GMT)

All the IPL franchises must be kicking themselves for not buying Hales. This bias against Pak and Eng players must be kicked by the franchises so that the fans in India are not denied the opportunity to watch the best players in the world. Hales has consistently proved in international and domestic T20s that he is one of the best in the business and was available for the auction. Hopefully we will get to see him in the IPL next year

Posted by VinothSam on (March 28, 2014, 4:03 GMT)

Good job Hales. Wishes from SL. It was a grate match. Battle between two most strongest teams.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 3:37 GMT)

England' bowling and fielding were pedestrian like. Hales compensated with a brilliant knock.Sri Lanka was crest fallen.

Posted by   on (March 28, 2014, 2:35 GMT)

At last I could say "Hail Hales !". In the first match played by England, before I could say that, he quit! ( Or forced to quit). He seems to have played his natural game in this one. That seems to be the secret of of his success in this match.

Posted by RodStark on (March 28, 2014, 1:58 GMT)

It was a brilliant innings, and there's no doubt that England have players who can do it on their day. The trouble is they only fire about one innings out of ten, unlike the stars of the really good teams.

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