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T20 World Cup: England thrash India by 10 wickets to reach to the final


There are going to be a few empty seats at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, come Sunday.

This is no disrespect to Pakistan or England, who will reprise the final of the 1992 ODI World Cup, but, when the sun sets on the Indian team in a global tournament — and it did so in a spectacular manner befitting the dusk scenes at any of Adelaide’s gorgeous beaches — the oxygen gets sucked out of the fan base.

Bookmakers had India as favourites going into their semifinal, but they did not factor in the varied outlook that the two teams took. Sure, it was a good toss to win for England, but India’s top order played a brand of cricket that is at odds with the fearlessness that the think tank has repeatedly demanded.

Yet again, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma failed to put together a stand. And yet again, the powerplay overs were treated as a good time to gauge the conditions, and the opposition, and allow the batsmen to get their eye in.

Sample this. India’s power play scores in this World Cup have been: 31/3, 32/1, 33/2, 37/1, 46/1 and finally 38/1. Virat Kohli has been able to absorb these slow starts and kick on towards the death, to the extent that he has four half-centuries in the tournament at a strike rate of nearly 137 and an average of almost 99.

But, on the day, he fell immediately after reaching 50, at a moment where he has put the pedal to the metal in previous games. India’s lack of strong starts has also been papered over by Suryakumar Yadav, who has 239 runs at a strike rate of almost 190.

But, he plays high-risk cricket, such is his role in the team, and one day or another, that means a low score. It happened at the worst possible time for India, but you can hardly blame him for the Indian campaign’s abrupt and emphatic end.

Hardik Pandya has come back strongly from a career-threatening back injury, but he has not quite been the same player with the bat, especially in this tournament. Where the length balls were being muscled over the ropes on the leg side in the past, now the ball was going one bounce to the fielder in the deep, for a single. In the semifinal, there were glimpses of Hardik the old, as he found ways to hit five sixes in a 33-ball 63 that took India to 158, and gave them a fighting chance.

It’s unclear what Rohit told his troops at the change of the innings, but he might as well have saved his breath.

Alex Hales kept out of the England team for an inordinate amount of time for matters relating to off-field incidents, set all that aside. More to the point, he took out this pent-up frustration on India’s bowlers. For company, he had Jos Buttler, one of the fiercest hitters in the modern game.

The two have been the engine room of England’s batting in this tournament, and when they brought up their third consecutive half-century partnership, India’s bowlers simply had no answers.

In the course of the innings, the pair put on the highest opening stand of the tournament, the highest opening stand in all men’s T20Is for England and buried India. The pair have given England starts that are in direct contrast to India’s in this tournament. In the first six overs of their batting innings, England have put up 40/1, 37/3, 48/0, 70/0 and 63/0.

But, the contrast did not end there. Adil Rashid, bowling his wily leg breaks, conceded 20 from his four overs for one wicket.

Liam Livingstone, the batting allrounder, only went for 21 off his three. Between them, R Ashwin and Axar Patel were taken for 57 runs in six wicketless overs.

When the winning runs were hit, it was fair to say India were shell shocked. It’s one thing to be outplayed. This tournament has shown that the margins are so small in T20 cricket, that any team can beat any other on a given day. But, to be out-bowled, outbatted, out-fielded and outthought. That must hurt.

BRIEF SCORES

India 168/6 (Hardik 63 off 33, Kohli 50 off 40; Jordan 3/43, Rashid 1/20) lost to England 170/0 in 16 overs (Hales 86* off 47, Buttler 80* off 49) by 10 wickets



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