Jos Buttler powered England into the World T20 semi-finals with a quick fire 37-ball 66 that helped his side beat a resolute Sri Lanka by ten runs in Delhi on Saturday.
Sri Lanka's captain, Angelo Mathews, won the toss and pressed the opposition in to bat first. It was a decision that paid early dividends, as Rangana Herath dismissed Alex Hales in the second over of the match for zero.
Jason Roy and Joe Root then added stability to the innings with a solid 61-run stand that came off 8.3 overs. Jeffrey Vandersay brought Sri Lanka back into the contest when he dismissed a set Root and Roy in the 11th and 13th over respectively.
The double-blow brought Buttler and Captain Eoin Morgan to the fore. The duo took no risks in the first two overs they faced, but they switched gears thereafter. Morgan - first - thumped Thisara Perera for a four and a six in the 16th over, and then Buttler tore into Chamara Kapugedera and clubbed him for three fours in the next over.
Buttler followed that up with two fours and two sixes in the 18th and 19th over. The 72 runs that England scored in their last five over's, propelled them from 99 for 3 after 15 to a total of 171. Only three times have they scored more runs in the last five in a T20I.
Buttler's score of 66 is his second highest in T20Is, and just one shy of his highest. He reached his fifty off 28, which is the fastest for England in T20Is against Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka's top order buckled in the first three overs as four wickets fell for just 15 runs. An 80-run fifth-wicket stand between Mathews and Kapugedera, the highest for the fifth wicket in T20Is, brought Sri Lanka back into the contest. Mathews remained unbeaten on 73 from 54 balls, which is his highest score in T20Is.
"I felt like I played well to get us up to a good score," Buttler, the Star of the Match, said. "It turned out to be a fantastic game. We needed Stokes to hit that last ball for six as well, too, him hitting that last ball for six…and that fantastic over at the death."