Thursday night sky lapsed into an inky black hue, and inside a well-lit Adelaide Oval, the light dimmed on the Men in Blue. England galloped to a 10-wicket victory over India as Rohit Sharma’s men crashed out of the ICC Twenty20 World Cup.
The semifinal was interestingly poised at the break after India posted 168 for six but once England openers - skipper Jos Buttler (80 n.o.) and Alex Hales (86 n.o.) - launched a breathless assault, the pursuit turned out to be a walk in the park. England finished with 170 for no loss in 16 overs, with Buttler hoisting Mohammed Shami into the stands.
The chase was frenzied as Buttler carved three fours from Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s first over. The tempo was maintained as in the seamer’s second over, Buttler launched one high over cover for six. Hales followed suit and hit Shami for a six and four besides kneeling down to lift Axar Patel over square leg. R. Ashwin met a similar fate, and even as Hardik Patel egged the crowd to raise their decibel levels, England was in the driver’s seat.
Hales’s blitzkrieg continued unabated as he found the gaps or sought the aerial route. The Indians were guilty of pitching it short, and when Shami messed up a throw from the deep, it summed up a day that went downhill for India. And Hales kept twisting the knife in as a resigned air coursed through the Indian fans while the English fans, few in number but strong in spirit, found their voice. England will now take on Pakistan in Sunday’s final at Melbourne.
Earlier, Buttler won the toss, elected to field and watched K.L. Rahul slash the first delivery from Ben Stokes for four. A set of play-and-miss routines soon happened before the opener fatally tried to ride the extra bounce that Chris Woakes extracted. Next-man Virat Kohli opened up his stance a bit to counter left-arm speedster Sam Curran’s angled deliveries, and the slip fielder sensed a chance.
Rohit watched from the non-striker’s end as Kohli lofted Woakes for six, and then the skipper joined, picking two fours off Curran. When leg-spinner Adil Rashid emerged, Rohit slog-swept while Kohli latched on to Liam Livingstone. Chris Jordan, too, felt the heat of Rohit’s bat, but the batter tried one more hustle and spooned a catch.
Kohli, Hardik fight back
With Suryakumar Yadav stepping in, the fans expected an electric charge. He briefly lived up to that expectation, hitting Stokes for a six and four. But against Rashid, the batter couldn’t get over the fielder on the fence, and at 75 for three in 11.2 overs, India needed stability and runs.
Kohli and Hardik offered a 61-run fourth-wicket partnership. The initial steady runs gathered pace as Kohli cut Woakes, Hardik clouted Livingstone and also tucked into Curran. Hardik found his groove against Curran as twice the ball sailed into the skies. Meanwhile, Kohli etched his 50 and departed, failing to get past the inner circle.
Hardik (63), though, cruised along, subjugating Curran to a volley of shots besides muscling his way against Jordan in the last over and even if he trod on his stumps, India had a challenging total until England stepped up with unbridled kinetic energy.