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T20 World Cup

Brilliant Buttler hails England batting depth after India rout



Photo: Courtesy

|| AFP ||

Skipper Jos Buttler on Thursday said it was England's batting depth that had allowed him and Alex Hales the freedom to demolish India by 10 wickets and power his side into a Twenty20 World Cup final with Pakistan.

Chasing 169 for victory in the second semi-final in Adelaide, Hales smashed seven sixes in his 86 and Buttler, who made 80, hit three as they took India apart to cruise into Sunday's final in Melbourne with four overs to spare.

England started the tournament slowly and were shocked by Ireland in a group match before a win over 2021 finalists New Zealand and a tense victory over Sri Lanka got them to the final four.

But they are full of momentum after a near perfect performance to make their third T20 World Cup final.

"Obviously immensely proud of the guys. That was a brilliant performance, by far our best performance in the tournament," said Buttler, whose unbroken 170-run stand with Hales was the highest partnership in T20 World Cup history.

It beat the 168 put together by South Africa's Rilee Rossouw and Quinton de Kock against Bangladesh earlier in the tournament. 

"To do it on a day like today in such a high-pressure game is immensely satisfying."

Phil Salt replaced the injured Dawid Malan at number three, but was a spectator, as were the rest of England's formidable batting line-up which contains power hitters all the way down to number 11.

"I think Adil Rashid was due in at number 11 today, so an incredibly long batting line-up which allows you to just keep going and play with so much freedom," said Buttler. 

"And I think that was a big part of today."

England, who are 50-over World Cup champions, will be looking on Sunday to add to their sole T20 crown won in 2010.

"I think it's important we enjoy the performance this evening, but of course don't get too far ahead of ourselves," said Buttler.

"There's still the biggest game of the tournament still to come. 

"But it's going to be an amazing occasion. So it's certainly something to be relished, to be enjoyed.

"And it will just encourage us to play with the same freedom, win, lose, draw, that we showed tonight."

'Fantastic' partnership'  

Hardik Pandya's 33-ball 63 guided India to 168-6, but the total proved woefully inadequate in the face of an inspired opening pair.

Buttler pummelled Bhuvneshwar Kumar for three boundaries in the opening over of their chase and his side never looked back.

Hales soon joined the big-hitting party as England raced to 63-0 in six overs.

Hales reached his 50 off 28 balls and was severe on Axar Patel, who leaked 28 runs in his first three overs as the match was torn away from India in a ferocious flurry of sixes and fours.

Hales, named player of the match, raised the team's 100 with another six off Pandya.

"This would be right up there for me as my perfect innings," said Hales, who was only recalled to the side when Jonny Bairstow broke his leg in September. 

"India in the semi-final, big occasion, I'm so happy with how I played, it's special," said Hales, who had been dropped on the eve of the 2019 50-over World Cup and thought his England career was over.

"I never thought I'd play in a World Cup again so this is so special, and to do it in a country where I love playing. It's one of the best nights of my career."

Buttler skipper reached his fifty with a six and a four off Pandya and fittingly hit the winning runs with a six off Mohammed Shami to set up a repeat of the 1992 50-over World Cup final between Pakistan and England, which Pakistan won.

Earlier, Virat Kohli made his fourth half-century of the tournament and put on a 61-run fourth-wicket stand with Pandya, who took 57 off the final three overs, including 20 off one from Sam Curran. 

But it proved too little, too late, and it was followed by a ragged performance in the field. 

"It's pretty disappointing how we turned up today," said captain Rohit Sharma. 

"It was definitely not a wicket where a team should be able to chase it down in 16 overs."