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India roar into T20 World Cup final after spin hastens sorry England collapse
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India roar into T20 World Cup final after spin hastens sorry England collapse

It was a scene witnessed on countless Test tours to the subcontinent but one played out in the semi-final of the men’s T20 World Cup in steamy Guyana. England were spun out in dramatic fashion for a crushing 68-run defeat that booked India a date with similarly unbeaten South Africa in Saturday’s final at Kensington Oval.

As Rohit Sharma’s side amassed 171 for seven either side of an 80-minute rain break it became apparent that the slow, low surface at Providence Stadium would make any chase tough going. The target was three runs more than the one England vaporised during that one-sided semi-final in 2022 but Adelaide this was very much not.

And so it proved. The defending champions have now become the former champions and heading for the next transatlantic flight home rather than the short hop back to Barbados. They were skittled for just 103 in 16.4 overs – the standard length of an innings in the Hundred – courtesy of a beguiling performance from India’s spinners. And all after Jos Buttler won his sixth toss in eight and opted to chase.

Sharma had wanted to bat first anyway and it did not sound like bravado at the time. Instead, his reading of the conditions was that runs on the board was the way to go. Striking 57 from 39 balls to help set up the total, Sharma then looked on with delight as Axar Patel, three for 23, and Kuldeep Yadav, three for 19, chalked up India’s eighth straight win and a chance to end their 11-year global trophy drought this weekend.

Jasprit Bumrah, needless to say, had an input here, the world’s premier all-format fast bowler mugging Phil Salt for five with a slower ball and delivering the coup de grace when he bullseyed Jofra Archer lbw with a yorker. But it was all about the spinners, with Patel the player of the match for his part in a famous derailment.

It was chaos, the fateful collapse triggered when Buttler went to reverse sweep Patel’s first ball on 23 and sent a catch looping behind off the glove. Jonny Bairstow was soon bowled for a duck by the wiry left-armer attempting to drive a skiddy delivery, before the promoted Moeen Ali overbalanced for a truly sorry stumping.

To watch Yadav follow this up with three of his own was to be transported back to Dharamsala earlier this year, when his left-arm wrist-spin wizardry set up a 4-1 Test series win over the Bazballers. Yadav pinned Sam Curran lbw with the wrong ’un, ended a defiant 25 by Harry Brook by bowling him round his legs, and then snuffed out all English hope by trapping Chris Jordan plumb in front. He is some bowler.

Sam Curran is trapped lbw by Kuldeep Yadav.View image in fullscreen

This being an English collapse there were two run-outs thrown into the mix, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid the men short of their ground. But it was all about their shortcomings against high-quality spin and, at the end of a lurching campaign in which Buttler’s side lost three of their four games against full member opposition, the manner of the defeat will inevitably trigger an internal review.

“We let them get 20 to 25 runs too many,” said Buttler, before sharing his regret at not bowling Moeen at all. On a day when the spinners were clearly to the fore, and Rashid and Livingstone were his thriftiest bowlers, sharing eight overs for 49 runs, it was certainly a strange oversight from the England captain.

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That said, things might have been different had Salt not grasped at fresh air when Sharma, on five, sliced Archer through backward point in the second over. Instead it was honours even before rain intruded with India on 65 for two at the end of the eighth. Reece Topley had pegged back Virat Kohli’s leg stump for nine after a whipped six was followed by the left-armer pulling back his length shrewdly, while Curran’s second ball forced Rishabh Pant to chip to catching mid-wicket.

But Sharma was at the other end setting the platform for his side in a stand of 73 from 50 balls alongside the typically flamboyant Suryakumar Yadav. Though not always fluent – the ball plugging when he cleared the infield earlier – there were dashes of Sharma’s usual brilliance, successive sweeps off Rashid’s first over, reverse and then orthodox, plus a couple of booming sixes late on.

It took a googly to prise out India’s captain, Rashid getting the ball to skid under a slog sweep and crash into the stumps amid figures of one for 25. And with Archer forcing Yadav to hole out on 47 with a slower ball, India were 124 for four in the 16th over and England appeared to have had an in.

But despite three wickets for Jordan at the death, including two in two balls as Shivam Dube nicked for a golden duck, India pushed past par through Hardik Pandya’s 13-ball 23 and Patel clearing the rope one-handed in the final over. That six felt telling at the time but Patel, it transpired, was simply warming up for an even greater say.

Source: theguardian.com