T20 World Cup: Stokes will 'grow and grow' in crunch moments for England, says Buttler

By Sports Desk November 05, 2022

Jos Buttler believes Ben Stokes will "grow and grow" as England aim for T20 World Cup glory in Australia.

Stokes' unbeaten 42 helped guide England to a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka on Saturday at the Sydney Cricket Ground, ensuring they progressed from Group 1 alongside New Zealand, last year's runners up.

It means the reigning champions and hosts Australia failed to reach the last four, with England set to face the winner of Group 2 in Adelaide for a place in the final.

England appeared to be cruising towards victory when, having limited Sri Lanka to 141-8, Buttler and opening partner Alex Hales plundered their way to 75 without loss.

Yet the loss of five wickets for 36 runs in the space of seven overs resulted in a nervy finish for England, and Stokes had to step up late on to set the stage for Chris Woakes to strike the winning boundary with two balls to spare.

"Not a great watch, to be honest – didn't enjoy that much," Buttler said at the post-match presentation.

"We knew, coming here, we had to find a way to win the game, thankfully we did that."

Asked if Stokes was the ideal player for the scenario, Buttler replied: "Absolutely, it's the kind of situation he's made for, I'm delighted for him and when he's at the crease, that gives you a sense of calm.

"He can play a lot of roles, he effects the game in all facets, he's a proper competitor and it's getting to the stage of the competition where you'll just see him grow and grow."

Stokes missed last year's T20 World Cup, and only returned to action in the format in a warm-up series against Australia ahead of this edition of the tournament, with his score on Saturday his best since he managed 46 against India in March 2021.

Another key player for England against Sri Lanka was Adil Rashid, whose figures of 1-16 saw him named the Player of the Match.

When asked if he was worried by the fast start Sri Lanka made with the bat, Buttler said: "Yeah, a little bit, they got off to a really good start and having lost the toss we knew the wicket would probably slow up as we went along.

"I thought it was a fantastic over from Adil Rashid at the back end of the powerplay to change the momentum. He's been someone we've always turned to and I was really pleased with his performance.

"I think a lot of people always look at the end column, maybe he hasn't picked up the wickets he usually does. I don't think he's bowled with much luck, to be honest. He's had a few chances that were missed, I think he's still bowling well, and on surfaces like this he's a really tough bowler to face."

Rashid took the wicket of opener Pathum Nissanka, whose 67 had anchored Sri Lanka's innings. 

Pathum has now accumulated over 1,000 T20I runs, becoming the 10th player from his nation to reach the milestone.

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