England find themselves just one game away from the semi-finals of the T20 Blind World Cup after a crucial 58-run win over Australia in Bangalore today.
Peter Blueitt continued his prolific form with his unbeaten 98 in a result that sees his side now occupy one of the top four qualifying spots for Saturday's knockout stage.
Matthew Page and Ed Hossell opened the innings for England and the pair shared a first-wicket stand of 45 before the former was run out by Steffan Nero in the fifth over.
Hossell was dismissed in similar fashion, run out by Stephen Palmer in the next over, but England upped the scoring rate through Blueitt and Justin Hollingsworth. Their partnership added 129 runs off 67 deliveries and England had 183 on the board by the time Hollingsworth was bowled in the 16th over – not before bringing up his fifty.
Blueitt and the incoming Nathan Foy hit their stride early and the pair batted impressively to see England to a competitive 251 for three from their 20 overs.
Australia's top order of Lindsay Heaven and Nero set about their reply with intent, cracking 82 runs off 60 balls. With the pair gaining momentum, England eventually got the breakthrough they needed, courtesy of a run out from Sugg to dismiss Nero for 46.
Australia were 95 for two when Vaughan Roles was run out for two but Heaven continued to build a score, passing 50 before he was bowled by Sugg.
England's bowlers maintained a stranglehold on their opponents and unable to keep up with an escalating run-rate Australia closed well short on 193 for five.
England face West Indies in their final group match tomorrow as they look to record their fifth consecutive win and secure their passage to the knockout stages.
Speaking after the match, captain Sugg was delighted with his team's performance: “It’s fantastic. It’s always a tight game against Australia – on another day it could have been them but it was our day today. We are building momentum towards tomorrow’s game and hopefully the semi-final.
“We’ve felt confident throughout the tournament. Even in the early defeats we’ve played well and taken the positives from the games. We’ve used that positivity to keep going forward.
“We knew the schedule was tough early on but that it would give us a chance to get a run going later.
“Playing the tough teams up front meant that we’ve had to be on our game from the start. We’ve got real momentum towards a potential semi-final place.
“The boys are feeling good and confident. It was a great batting performance and solid bowling to see us home.”
“It was a really good performance under pressure. All the games are must win, especially when playing against a rival. The boys have shown real character.”
Head coach Ross Hunter was also impressed by the display: “It was a really good performance under pressure. All the games are must wins, especially when playing against a rival. The boys have shown real character.
“We were a bit slow first 10 then came back in the latter part of the innings. Justin hit a few boundaries and Pete and Nathan were outstanding at the end. We knew runs on the board would make it tough for them. The target was 270 but 250 put them under pressure.
“Pete’s innings was even more remarkable as he found it tough going yesterday on a similar pitch. He showed real character to come back from that and has become a lynchpin within the batting order.
“We always said that it’s been in our control. We faced the toughest teams early and knew if we won our games after that we’d have a chance of making the semis.
“[Thursday's opponents] West Indies are a dangerous side. They’ve put together decent totals so far and we’ll have to be on our game.”
England T20 Blind World Cup group stage fixtures
31 January 2017 – England v Pakistan (England lose by 95 runs)
1 February 2017 – England v New Zealand (England win by eight wickets)
2 February 2017 – England v India (England lose by 10 wickets)
3 February 2017 – England v Sri Lanka (England lose by 103 runs)
4 February 2017 – England v South Africa (England win by 43 runs)
5 February 2017 – England v Bangladesh (England win by four wickets)
7 February 2017 – England v Nepal (England win by 90 runs)
8 February 2017 – England v Australia (England win by 58 runs)
9 February 2017 – England v West Indies
World Cup knockout fixtures
11 February 2017 – semi-finals
12 February 2017 – final