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CRICKET COUNTDOWN

England power past India to set up T2o final against Pakistan

England power past India to set up T2o final against Pakistan
England's batters Jos Buttler (R) and Alex Hales (L) react following England's win in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 Semi Final 2 cricket match between India and England at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Australia, 10 November 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE/MATT TURNER)

England will meet Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final after thrashing India by 10 wickets in Adelaide.

Alex Hales and captain Jos Buttler shone in a record unbroken opening partnership as a ruthless England humiliated India by 10 wickets at Adelaide Oval on Thursday, 10 November, to storm into the Twenty20 World Cup final.

 England, who won the 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2019, can now become the first team to hold both global trophies in white-ball cricket when they meet Pakistan in Sunday’s final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

They have rehabilitated opener Hales and skipper Buttler to thank as the pair chased down 169 for victory with four overs to spare, leaving a huge crowd of India supporters stunned.

Hales finished on 86 not out, and Buttler, who was unbeaten on 80, completed the statement win in style, blasting paceman Mohammed Shami over his head for six.

For Hales, it was especially sweet, having missed out on England’s 2019 triumph after a recreational drug scandal.

His exile from the England setup lasted more than three years and he was only called up to the squad after Jonny Bairstow was injured in a freak golf accident.

 “This will be right up there for sure,” said Hales, who has played plenty of domestic T20 cricket in Australia with the Big Bash League.

“It’s a huge occasion playing India in the semi-final of a World Cup … Really happy with the way I played.

“It’s a special feeling in a country that I love and I’ve spent a lot of time here, so tonight is one of the best nights of my career.”

The England pair’s 170-run stand was their team’s biggest in the history of the tournament and sets up a mouthwatering duel against Pakistan, 30 years on from the teams’ 50-over World Cup final in 1992 at the MCG that Pakistan won.

“It certainly feels (a perfect match) against a top-quality opposition,” said Buttler.

 “We came in very excited and there was a good feel around the group… I thought everyone, from one to 11, stood up today.”

After Buttler won the toss and put India into bat, his bowlers did well to restrict India early but Hardik Pandya (63) and Virat Kohli (50) helped the south Asians recover from a slow start to post 168 for six.

England’s Jos Buttler and Alex Hales react, following England’s win in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 Semi Final between India and England at Adelaide Oval. (Photo: EPA-EFE/MATT TURNER)

It seemed a defendable total but Buttler and Hales made light work of it as they blasted England to 63 for no loss at the end of the powerplay, and then 98 at the halfway mark.

“It’s pretty disappointing how we turned up today,” said India captain Rohit Sharma. “I thought we still batted pretty well at the back end to get to that score, but we were not good enough with the ball.

 “It was definitely not a wicket where a team can come and chase it down in 16 overs. It’s all about executing your plans. If you can’t execute, you’d find yourself in trouble.”

Pakistan peaking

Prior to the knockout stages, Pakistan’s hitherto misfiring opening pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan chose Thursday’s semi-final against New Zealand to roar back into form.

They combined in a century stand to put the 2009 champions into the final of the T20 World Cup.

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Rizwan and skipper Babar headed into the tournament as the top two T20 batters in the official rankings but endured run droughts in the group stage, even though Pakistan made the last four after the Netherlands upset South Africa in Group 2.

None of them managed a 50 in the Super 12 matches and Babar’s strike rate of 61.90 prompted demands to vacate the opener’s slot for a more attacking Mohammad Haris. 

Pakistan’s bowlers and their middle order carried them into the last four, but Babar and Rizwan regained their mojo just in time to put them one victory away from a second T20 World Cup title.

After just one 50-plus stand in the previous five matches, Babar and Rizwan forged a 105-run partnership to set up Pakistan’s seven-wicket victory against last year’s runners-up New Zealand. 

“Such up and down in form is part and parcel of the game, every player goes through such phases,” Babar said after their victory.

“I could not perform well in the first three matches but it could not shake my belief in myself. My teammates also kept their faith in me.”

Babar appeared to have luck on his side too.

The 28-year-old could have been dismissed for a golden duck but New Zealand wicketkeeper Devon Conway floored a tough catch, diving to his right.

The elegant right-hander raced to a 38-ball half-century, smashing even boundaries in his fluent 53 before holing out in the deep.

Rizwan needed two balls fewer for his half-century, offering a silent prayer after reaching the mark with a single off Ish Sodhi.

Rizwan was also caught in the deep after making 57, having put Pakistan on the brink of their victory.

“When you perform, it’s very satisfying and I try to perform every time I go out,” Babar said of his return to form.

 “Today both Rizwan and I decided to attack in the powerplay… it gave us a momentum which we didn’t drop.” Reuters/DM

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