The English opening batsmen Alex Hales and Jos Butler took India to the cleaners in what will be known as the biggest capitulation by Indian bowlers after a respectable total was posted by the batters despite an early setback in the T20 World Cup Semi final.
The English duo displayed the batting mettle rarely seen by Indians under pressure or in crucial games. A record open batting partnership of 170 runs to beat cricket T20 World Cup favourites India (168) in Adelaide in the semi-finals will be a thing to remember for a long time and something which will haunt Indian fans for years.
Now the finals are set between India’s arch rivals Pakistan and England to be played on Sunday 13 November at the MCG.
After KL Rahul lost his cheaply for 5, Virat Kohli with 50 and Hardik Pandya with 63 runs managed to set up a target of 169 for England to chase.
While Indian fans expected Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammad Shami and Axer Patel to take wickets and keep the bowling to sensibly economical, the English batters made a complete mincemeat of the Indian attack. It looked as if they did not know what a yorker is.
Making it extremely painful for their fans, the bowlers continued bowl short pitched and short of length deliveries to allow the ball to meet the middle of the bat with effortless ease.
Although the Indian team performed well in the qualifying matches, they lacked the zing in this match particularly in bowling and fielding.
The unexpected result has denied the most anticipated India-Pakistan finale the respective Indian and Pakistani fans were gearing up to attend in Melbourne.
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The finals are now being compared to and is being seen as a repeat of the famous 1992 World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) which was won by Pakistan.
When India lost the toss and England chose to bowl first, it felt like something had gone wrong. Although the India skipper Rohit Sharma told Ravi Shastri he would have chosen to bat first, he looked unconvincing.
All eye were then upon the Indian batters to do well during the power play. They were their usual – 38 for 1 after 6 overs. From that point to finish at 168, India did look as if they were in the game.
English bowlers restricted Indian run-scoring with disciplined bowling and superb fielding. However, towards the later stages of the semi final match, Kohli and Pandya hit several boundaries and sixes to put up a good total to defend.
England openers started the chase by taking full advantage of the powerplay that India could not, taking 63 runs in a clear contrast to India’s 38-1 and continued with the onslaught with 4’s and 6’s till the end of their innings.
Conceding the usual way that the English outplayed the Indians, the India skipper said, “This is pretty disappointing how we turned up today. We still batted well especially at the back end to get that score but we were not good enough with the ball,”
The irony is when the English captain Jos Buttler called the Indians “quality opposition”, it felt patronizing.
“It certainly feels like it’s as close to perfect as we can get, especially against such quality opposition”, England captain Jos Buttler said after the semi final match.