His 101 * off 67 balls was England’s mainstay but sealed the berth in the semi-final, but the keeper-batsman’s contribution was not limited to that.
Scorecard | As happened | Point table
With the dew settling, Sri Lanka were threatening to build a match in the 18th over with captain Dasun Shanakar holding the fort with the bat. But a great run by Butler in the fight to get Shanaka out, Lanka finally lost by 26 runs. In his previous over, another great team dropped the dangerous Wanindu Hasranga (34) with catches in the hands of Jason Roy and Sam Billings to give the Lankans a break when they were close to winning a great comeback.
But before that, it was Butler – the first England batsman to score a century in all three formats of international cricket – who set it for the 2010 champions. On a Sharjah pitch that was not conducive to a big-hit, Butler played an exceptional innings to score his first T20 century that helped England fight from a tough angle. He picked up his century at the end of the innings – a leg-side full toss from medium pacer Dushmant Chamira that was deposited in the gallery. His innings helped England reach 163-4 after falling to 35-3 in six overs.
The Lankan team management may have missed the strategy with just two spinners – Wanindu Hasranga (3-21) and Mahesh Thekshana (0/13). As long as the two spinners were in action, Lanka threatened to take control of the game. For England’s achievement, they didn’t panic at that stage. Butler and captain Morgan (40 off 35 balls), who are fighting for form, decide to play the hard part.
But once the spinners are out, both are loose, especially Butler. The England batsman was still 13 behind to go to the last over of his century and he was so confident of getting big shots that he even rejected a single off Moin Ali in the third ball after hitting a few boundaries. And then the last six came with a ton that he deserved so much.