“It was nice to get that one out,” Plunkett said after the game. “They bowled well at the death and obviously Woakesy (Chris Woakes) and Jos (Buttler) put us in a great position after a few early wickets. We bat all the way down – me and (Adil Rashid) are 10 and 11 – so we’re backing ourselves to take it as deep as possible. I just feel if you’re in at the end you give yourself the best chance to clear the ropes and lucky enough it was the last ball.
“It shows the depth we’ve got. It’s good for the team isn’t it? You know you can carry on all the way through an innings. If you struggle up top then hopefully the end can get a big score and if not you can carry on from ball one.”
Chasing 287 for victory, the English hopes had died down when they were reduced to 82 for 6 in 18 overs. But, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes began the recovery with a 138-run stand for the seventh wicket. Buttler was finally dismissed for a 99-ball 93 with England further needing 67 from 45 with just three wickets in hand.
Plunkett, who came in after David Willey’s dismissal, smashed an unbeaten 11-ball 22 to help the hosts tie the game. Woakes remained unbeaten at the end on 95 and earned praise from his skipper Eoin Morgan for his efforts. “You can always win the game from any situation and today proved that a little bit,” Morgan said.
“We were dead and buried a couple of times in the World T20. There is a lot of belief in the changing room, particularly with the bat. We are very lucky to get out of this game with a tie and go to Edgbaston at 0-0 all square. The general performance was poor. Bat, ball, field, was really rusty. That was as bad as we have performed with the bat over the past year. A lot of Woakes’ story is that he is competing with Ben Stokes and the two of them are incredible cricketers. We are lucky to have both of them”
Angelo Mathews, Sri Lanka skipper, was understandably gutted with the result after being in a commanding position at one stage. He revived the Sri Lankan innings with a composed 73 and went on to remove Jason Roy and Joe Root with the new ball to put his side firmly on top. He defended his bowler Nuwan Pradeep who bowled the final over but called for an improved fielding effort in the next game.
“I thought we had the game in the bag for most of the overs,” Mathews said. “Unfortunately Nuwan Pradeep’s final ball yorker fell just off line and went for a six. For Pradeep, it happens. Unfortunately for bowlers, it happens. All the bowlers did well.
“We fell short by 15 or 20 runs. It was a brilliant wicket to bat on but we had to be satisfied with 286. We just kept losing wickets at crucial times.We’ve got lots of positives. We batted and bowled pretty well. But we were poor in the field. We can improve in all three departments but especially in the fielding.”