ENGLAND will play South Africa in the Champions Trophy semi-final at The Oval on Wednesday, after Sri Lanka’s 20-run win over Australia at the same venue yesterday ensured Alastair Cook’s men finished top of Group A.
Mahela Jayawardene hit 84 from 81 balls, becoming only the eighth man ever to pass 11,000 runs in one-day internationals, on the way to Sri Lanka closing on 253-8.
And three wickets from Nuwan Kulasekara, including the dismissals of openers Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes, ensured Sri Lanka reached the last four at New Zealand’s expense.
“The most important thing was to win and get into the semi-finals, that [passing 11,000 runs] was the icing on the cake,” said Jaywardene. “We’re playing hard and passionate cricket, but at the same time we need to enjoy it. That has been our mantra for some time.”
Sri Lanka, roared on by thousands of supporters, were invited to bat first and lost Kusal Perera in only the third ball of the innings.
Angelo Matthews’ side were heading for a modest total once the skipper was dismissed for 12 with the team on 159-5 after 37 overs.
But a useful 65-run stand between Lahiru Thirimanne and Jaywardene ensured a competitive score.
Australia still held faint hope of progressing to the semi-finals, but needed to reach their target in an unlikely 29.1 overs.
They were stuttering on 80-5 however, in the 13th over as Kulasekara tore through the top order. A final wicket stand of 41 between Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty made Sri Lanka sweat until Tilla Dilshan held onto a sensational caught and bowled to seal victory.