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Rohit, Axar and Kuldeep star in crushing victory as India storm into the final

T20 WORLD CUP, 2024

Axar Patel's three-wicket haul included the big scalp of Jos Buttler

Axar Patel’s three wickets included the big scalp of Jos Buttler © Getty

No reigning champion has ever reached the next final at T20 World Cups and India ensured that trend continued with a bullish 68-run win over England at the Providence Stadium in Guyana. They will now face co-finalists South Africa, the other unbeaten team in this edition, in Barbados for a place in history.

India were dreading it when they were asked to bat first in the major semi-final after losing five out of five in ICC tournaments since 2021. But handy knocks from Rohit Sharma (57) and Suryakumar Yadav (47), and three wickets for Axar Patel with the new ball, ensured India were too good for England that day.

Where was the semi-final won?

In the first innings, Jos Buttler felt England allowed India to score “20-25 runs too many”.

Despite England’s theatrical 101 all out, you’d have to say India had the match in the bag when they put 171 on the board, asking their opponents to chase the highest ever target in a one-day match in Guyana. The pitch slowed and dropped, as Rohit Sharma had expected, and in hindsight it was a good pitch to lose. Buttler elected to chase with the wet forecast in mind, but the decision was fraught with the risk of batting second on a pitch that was getting slower by the minute. And England’s worst fears were realised, their struggles compounded in conditions tailor-made for India’s slow bowlers.

INDIA

PowerPlay: Rohit keeps India’s nose ahead

Phase Score: 46/2 (5x4s, 1x6s)

After the scars of Adelaide 2022, India were not to trudge on, even though the conditions in Guyana were slow, low and very different. The intent was clear from the way Rohit’s first boundary was a streaky edge at short third man, but the India captain stuck with it, even if it meant smashing one through the hands of Phil Salt at one point. At the other end, Virat Kohli looked far less convincing when trying to play the power game early on, falling after scoring a run-a-ball 9, bringing his average this edition down to a modest 10.71, a far cry from his IPL form. Rishabh Pant was no answer that day either, dying at mid-wicket in Sam Curran’s first over, but Rohit’s four boundaries ensured India were there and roughly on par, albeit in conditions where the odd ball stayed below the shin.

Middle-overs: The Rohit-Suryakumar show

Stage Score: 72/1 (5x4s, 4x6s)

India were the fastest scoring team in the middle overs this edition and once again came out strong, posting 8 rpo at this stage. The run-rate was driven by a sensational 73-run partnership between Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav either side of a 75-minute rain delay, with the duo going hard on anything remotely loose and maintaining the pace despite the lengthy interruption to play. Curran took some punishment in his second over, conceding 19 runs, each of which included a six from both set batters. Rohit in particular was aggressive against Adil Rashid and would eventually lose his wicket to the legspinner when a googly was held low, but not before steering India through the difficult middle overs against the old ball.

Death overs: Jordan hampers India’s charge

Phase score: 53/4 (4x4s, 3x6s)

How many are enough in this field? India went into this final round of batting with that question in mind, but the answers proved elusive. Eleven balls after Rohit was dismissed, Suryakumar was brilliantly caught in the deep by Chris Jordan when he mistimed a slower ball with the back of Jofra Archer’s hand, forcing Hardik Panyda and Ravindra Jadeja, who both walked walked out to bat ahead. Shivam Dube, to bring about recovery. Pandya then broke the chains with back-to-back flat sixes against Jordan, but would fall as he tried to make it three in three. When Dube fell for a golden duck in the first over, it was up to Axar and Jadeja to steer India in the dying moments and the duo did a phenomenal job, adding a whopping 24 runs in the last two overs.

ENGLAND

PowerPlay: Axar throughout England

Stage Score: 39/3 (4x4s, 0x6s)

He wasn’t bowling in white, he wasn’t bowling in Ahmedabad and he wasn’t bowling with the pink ball, but Axar Patel proved a handful for England once again. Given the ball in the PowerPlay, the left-arm spinner deceived Jos Buttler on the reverse sweep with his first ball to give India the most important breakthrough of the match. Axar’s next over saw Jonny Bairstow bowled by one that slid low. And between those two wickets was a Jasprit Bumrah classic. It was the quick offbreak he bowled that found its way in off Phil Salt on this occasion.

Mid-overs: England succumb to spin

Stage Score: 47/5 (3x4s, 1x6s)

As if Axar’s deliveries weren’t enough of a hint, Kuldeep Yadav turned one big one in his first over to predict what was to follow. Lots of spin, inconsistent bounce and no pace off the pitch – factors that combined to decimate England against the old ball. It was Axar again who bookended this phase of the game, starting by getting Moeen to punch Ali down the leg side and wrapping it up by running out Jofra Archer. But in the middle, it was Kuldeep who played the lead role. Curran and Jordan were trapped lbw, but the pick of his three wickets was Harry Brook, who tried to play back-to-back reverse sweeps against the spinner and lost his leg stump as a result.

Death overs: India finish it off with 20 balls to go

Phase score: 15/2 (1x4s, 1x6s)

By the time both teams reached this stage of play, India was counting down to victory. Suryakumar’s run-out of Rashid and Bumrah’s lbw of Archer lifted England out of their misery, and India into yet another ICC final, their first in a T20 World Cup in 10 years.

Short scores: India 171/7 (Rohit 57, Suryakumar 47; Jordan 3-37) defeated England 101 all out in 16.4 overs (Brook 25; Kuldeep 3-19, Axar 3-23, Bumrah 2-12) by 68 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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