A magnificent century from Jos Buttler, 101 off 67 balls, completed with a six off the last ball of the innings, has enabled England to maintain their perfect Twenty20 World Cup record.
Sri Lanka became the first team to stretch England, restricting their powerful batting line-up for the first half of their innings on Monday, and making a spirited attempt at overhauling England’s 4-163.
Wanindu Hasaranga, following up a superb bowling spell, led the counter-attack.
In the end, however, England prevailed by 26 runs.
The only negative note for captain Eoin Morgan, who returned to form with a 36-ball 40, was a soft-tissue injury to Tymal Mills which forced the left-arm quick off midway through his spell.
Put into bat for the first time, and on the low Sharjah wicket, England’s batters discovered it was a very different game.
At the end of the power play against Australia on Saturday in Dubai they were 0-66. At the end of the first six overs this time they were 3-36 with Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow out.
With Morgan struggling against the spinners Buttler consolidated and the pair added just 11 runs from the next four overs reaching the mid-point 3-47.
Then England stepped on the gas. In the last 60 balls they added 116.
Having reached 50 in a relatively sedate 45 balls Buttler took just more 22 balls to go to his first T20 international century.
He said: “I found it tough early on, the spinners were especially tricky with that low bounce, at one time we thought 120 would be a good score. But I’m really please I l kept my head, stayed patient and backed myself to catch up. I felt I used a lot of experience.”
Amid the carnage Hasaranga bowled beautifully to take 3-21 off four overs and Maheesh Theekshana’s mystery spin conceded 13 off his four.
Sri Lanka made a bad start when Morgan and Buttler combined again to run out Nissanka off the third ball. Wickets continued to fall regularly and when Dasun Shanaka and Hasaranga came together in the 11th over Sri Lanka were 5-76.
The pair added 53 in under six overs but just as it seemed the chase was on both perished in successive balls to stunning fielding and Sri Lanka folded.
Jason Roy and substitute Sam Billings – on for Mills – combined on the boundary to catch Hasaranga for 34 off 21. Next ball Buttler ran out Shanaka for 26 off 24.
It was soon all over with Sri Lanka’s last five wickets going for eight runs in 14 balls.