World Twenty20: Alex Hales hits amazing ton to lead England to miracle win over Sri Lanka

Hales becomes first Englishman to score a century in an international T20

Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium

Alex Hales revived England’s World Twenty20 campaign here with an electrifying hundred to secure a memorable victory against Sri Lanka. The jig looked up and the tournament over before his astonishing innings, the highest of this tournament and the first Twenty20 century by an England player.

If it could not quite atone for the deficiencies of a long, grim winter, it was an utterly spectacular intervention which nobody, perhaps least of all the man himself, could have seen coming. Hales, who has been short of form almost since the squad left England four weeks ago, made 116 not out from 64 balls, which included 11 fours and six sixes, the last and largest of which finished the match off the second ball of the final over.

By any measure, it was a superb example of controlled aggression. Considering that England were 0 for 2 in pursuit of their opponents’ total of 189 for 4, during which they had played as lamentably as they have all winter, it verged on a sporting miracle. Hales and Eoin Morgan, also in need of runs, put on 152 from 93 balls, the highest for the third wicket in T20 internationals.

Never can such a liaison have been more sorely needed. The match had looked well beyond England’s grasp. In dropping three catches, missing a run-out and being wrongly deprived of a crucial catch by the crassest of umpiring decisions, England let Sri Lanka make perhaps 40 runs more than they ought to have done, 40 too many for England.

“It is a win we needed as a side and I am pleased I managed to contribute to a winning team,” said Hales, being endearingly modest and trying hard not to sound like the cat who had got the cream. “ It wasn’t an ideal start, but it was an excellent wicket and the way Morgy came in straight away and took the game back to them made my job a lot easier. We had plans to stay in the game as long as we could, build a partnership, reassess at the halfway stage. We stuck to the plan and it paid off.”

Two wickets fell in the first over when Michael Lumb was bowled swinging across the line and Moeen Ali edged the next ball to second slip. There was not a run on the board and Hales had yet to face. He and Morgan never let the target out of their sights and, while they were never short of boundaries, they also ensured they rotated the strike. As so often in T20, however, it was one over which turned the contest inexorably England’s way.

It was the 15th of the innings and it brought 25 runs to England, a single to Morgan and the rest to Hales, who hit Ajantha Mendis three times over the leg-side boundary and cheekily finished off with a four threaded through two men on the cover boundary.

“I had a plan to take down the leg side,” said Hales. “He bowled three balls exactly where I wanted them, I was well set and managed to put him over the rope. With about six or seven overs to go I thought we could win. We’d needed about 12 an over at the halfway stage and we knew it was going to be tough. I think [the win] will be massive for us. We have admitted we are underdogs in this tournament. This win is going to give us momentum in the next couple of games.”

England unquestionably had an advantage batting second. The dew under the floodlights was especially heavy, which made gripping the ball (and catching it) particularly difficult. That might account for Mendis’s lack of precision but the ball still had to be hit and Hales hit it. He had twice been out in the nineties in T20s for England, but on this occasion was unerring in reaching the milestone in England’s 70th Twenty20 match.

When Morgan, for 57 from 38 balls, and Jos Buttler were out in the same over from Nuwan Kulasekara, it might have proved terminal to England’s prospects. But Ravi Bopara came in and dealt immediately with the enduring threat of Lasith Malinga by playing him square of and behind the wicket. It brought him two precious boundaries. It was intelligent cricket at a crucial stage of proceedings.

England arrived at the penultimate over needing 23 and Hales decided to leave little to chance. He struck the second ball over cover for six and the third over midwicket for another. It left seven needed from the final over. Bopara scrambled a single from the first, Hales did the rest.

How England made life difficult for themselves. After an early wicket they thought they had Mahela Jayawardene first ball but the on-field and third umpires inexplicably felt the shot to Lumb had bounced. Jayawardene was then reprieved three times on the way to an otherwise lovely 89 and Tillekeratne Dilshan once as they put on 145.

“It hasn’t been a great winter personally,” said Hales. “I didn’t do as well in the Big Bash [in Australia] as I’d have liked but I have been hitting the ball well in the nets and I always had the feeling a big score was close and I am pleased it was today for a winning side.”

* England play Bangladesh on Friday in their group match of the Women’s Twenty20. They should win in some comfort but will need to shed the nerves and diffidence which have afflicted them so far. Meanwhile, Australia captain Meg Lanning hit a women’s T20 world record 126 during the 78-run win over Ireland in yesterday’s game.

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup