Former England skipper Eoin Morgan praised Adil Rashid after he delivered a man of the match display in England’s narrow win over Sri Lanka at the T20 World Cup.
Jos Buttler’s side made hard work of a run chase that was completed in the final over when Chris Woakes struck the winning boundary with two balls to spare.
England looked as though they would be chasing a much larger total than the 142 they were eventually set when Sri Lanka had raced to 52-1 off just five overs.
Leg-spinner Rashid, who had endured a slow start to the tournament, turned the match, quite literally, in England’s favour with a fabulous spell, conceding just 16 runs from four overs and claiming the vital wicket of Pathum Nissanka who compiled an impressive 67.
Praising Rashid’s contribution Morgan, who retired earlier this year, told Sky Sports: ‘I think even the confidence Jos gave him in his interview there reinforces that he is irreplaceable in the team.
‘People sometimes jump to the far right column and it doesn’t justify his contribution to the team, certainly on a wicket like this.
In many ways he’s similar to a bowler like Mark Wood who has the ability to turn a game on its head, he sucked the life out of the energy Sri Lanka were gathering after that brilliant start.
‘He went through his full repertoire of variations and then gets the huge wicket of Pathum, that was crucial because for a long time it looked like Sri Lanka were going to post 170 or 175 that would be an unbelievably tough chase on this wicket.’
Buttler, meanwhile, who shared in an opening wicket stand of 75 with Alex Hales, admitted he was chewing his nails after England’s middle order failed to fire and left the lower order to finish the job.
‘It was a lot more nervy than it needed to be, but we found a way to get the job done,’ said Buttler. ‘Ben Stokes was there and he’s a guy who can win you a game with bat, ball and in the field.
‘There was no questioning of him within the group. The nature of T20 cricket means you won’t always comes with off with the bat. He’s a proper match winner and he showed that in a different way today.
‘The middle order? I take responsibility myself because we were in a good position and we let them back in with wickets.
‘These pitches are not easy to start on and small partnerships can be valuable. I looked at myself and should been out there having done the hard work.’
England will almost certainly play India in Adelaide looking to reach the final but are sweating on the fitness of Dawid Malan who pulled up in the field with a groin strain.
Buttler added: ‘t’s too early to tell but fingers crossed he’ll pull up well. He would have batted if he needed to. Running would have been difficult but he would have gone out there.’
, ., and .