India blown away by Buttler and Hales storm
ADELAIDE (Reuters) — Alex Hales and captain Jos Buttler shone in a record unbroken opening partnership as a ruthless England humiliated India by ten wickets at Adelaide Oval today to storm into the ICC T20 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 the final on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
They have rehabilitated opener Hales and Buttler to thank, as the pair chased down 169 for victory with four overs to spare, silencing a huge crowd of India supporters.
Hales finished on 86 not out from 47 balls, and Buttler, who was unbeaten on a 49-ball 80, completed the statement win in style, blasting fast bowler Mohammed Shami over his head for six.
“It certainly feels [a perfect match] against a top-quality opposition,” Buttler said.
“We came in very excited and there was a good feel around the group ... I thought everyone, from 1 to 11, stood up today.”
Put in to bat after Buttler won the toss, Rohit Sharma’s India started slowly under tight England bowling, and it was left to Hardik Pandya (63) and Virat Kohli (50) to mount a rescue, pushing them to 168 for six.
The total seemed a tad below par and soon looked piffling as Hales and Buttler went to work, the pair blasting 23 boundaries between them.
Their 170-run stand was the biggest opening partnership in T20 World Cup history and England’s biggest for any wicket at the tournament.
It set up a mouthwatering duel against Pakistan, 30 years on from the teams’ 50-over World Cup final in 1992 at the MCG which the south Asians won.
For player of the match Hales, it was a night of redemption, having missed out on England’s 2019 triumph after a recreational drug scandal.
His exile from the England set-up lasted more than three years and he was called up to the squad only 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 T20 in Australia in the Big Bash League.
“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.”
England had to make changes for the semi-final, with pace spearhead Mark Wood and No 3 batter Dawid Malan out injured.
Replacement seamer Chris Jordan took three for 43, capturing the key wicket of Kohli, while spinner Adil Rashid took a miserly one for 20 from his four overs.
Even at No 3, Malan’s stand-in, Phil Salt, could not get a bat but he took the catch that dismissed India’s master blaster Suryakumar Yadav for 14 off Rashid.
India face a period of introspection, having failed to set up a decider against arch rivals Pakistan that their massive fanbase had clamoured for.
“It’s pretty disappointing how we turned up today,” Rohit said.
“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’s all about executing your plans. If you can’t execute, you’d find yourself in trouble.”