St Lucia: England cruised into the World Twenty20 final with a seven-wicket thrashing of Sri Lanka at the Beausejour Stadium here on Thursday. Set just 129 to win, after tight bowling restricted Sri Lanka — last year’s losing finalists — to 128 for six, England finished on 132 for three as they won with four overs to spare.
Kevin Pietersen, on his return to the side after he attended the birth of his son in London, finished on 42 not out and ended the match in style with a six and a four in successive balls off fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
England, who have never won a major one-day international tournament, are now through to their first final since hosting the 2004 Champions Trophy. They will face the winners of Friday’s second semi-final here between defending champions Pakistan and Australia in Sunday’s final at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Only Angelo Mathews, with 58, offered much resistance against England’s bowlers before he was run out of the penultimate ball. Sri Lanka’s next best score was 16, achieved by both captain Kumar Sangakkara, who won the toss, and Chamara Kapugedera.
Paceman Stuart Broad led the attack with two wickets for 21 runs off his four permitted overs. Both left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom and Broad took a wicket first ball as Sri Lanka collapsed to 26 for three.
Spinners Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy then ensured runs remained hard to come by with a combined eight overs that cost just 41 runs.
At the start of their run chase, England were confronted by a trio of spinners as Sri Lanka looked to exploit their supposed vulnerability against slow bowling on a pitch offering some turn.
But Craig Kieswetter, driving strongly, and left-hander Michael Lumb settled any lingering nerves with an opening stand of 68.However, that partnership should have ended on 40 when Kieswetter cut the ball to backward point and Lumb set off for a non-existent single.
Lumb was almost at the other end of the pitch before he was sent back but Ajantha Mendis fumbled the return to the bowler’s end stumps, with Lumb yards out, and the chance had gone.
Two balls later Kieswetter struck unorthodox spinner Mendis straight back over his head for four and ended the over with another boundary, a fine leg-glance.Kieswetter was eventually yorked by Malinga for 39 and Lumb bowled for 33, walking across his stumps, by seamer Thissara Perera. But the damage had already been done.
Sri Lanka collapsed to 26 for three against England seamers Tim Bresnan, Sidebottom and Broad.
They were seven for one at the start of the second over when left-arm quick Sidebottom removed Jayasuriya for just one after the veteran fended outside off stump and edged straight to England captain Paul Collingwood at second slip.
New batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan on nine then miscued a hook off Bresnan and was well caught by a diving Luke Wright, running in from deep backward square leg, to leave Sri Lanka 20 for two at the end of the third over.
Sri Lanka’s collapse continued when Broad, as Sidebottom had done, took a wicket first ball.
Mahela Jayawardene, the tournament’s leading scorer with 302 runs, including a century against Zimbabwe, fell for just 10 when he edged a well pitched up ball outside off stump and was caught by wicketkeeper Kieswetter.