T20 World Cup: Rohit, Axar, Kuldeep excel as India outclass England, set up title clash with SA

by IANS |

 June 28 (IANS) Captain Rohit Sharma slammed his 32nd T20I fifty through a 39-ball 57, while Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel picked three wickets each as India stormed into the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup final after outclassing defending champions England by 68 runs in the second semifinal at the Providence Stadium. On a tricky pitch with a slow pace and low bounce, Rohit adjusted well to mix risk-taking and caution to smash six fours and two sixes in his vital knock, while sharing a 73-run stand with Suryakumar Yadav, who slammed 47 off 36 balls. Handy runs from Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel at the fag end helped India post a competitive 171/7 after being inserted into bat first. In reply, brilliant spells by Axar and Kuldeep led to England falling in a heap as they were bowled out for 103. The commanding win will now see India take on South Africa in the final at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday. Moreover, for the first time in the history of the competition, the Men's T20 World Cup will have an unbeaten team as champion. After 75 minutes of rain interruption, Rohit began by getting two streaky boundaries, while Virat Kohli was convincing in his flicked six off Reece Topley. But in a bid to heave Topley across the line, Kohli didn’t account for the length ball shaping back in and saw his bails being rattled. Despite Rohit not getting the desired timing on his shots, he managed to pull Topley for four and then stayed leg-side to drive the pacer stylishly for another boundary. But England took out Rishabh Pant, as he flicked straight to mid-wicket off Sam Curran. Suryakumar opened his account with a straight drive past Curran for four, as India ended the Power-play at 46/2. Rohit welcomed Rashid with a reverse sweep and the conventional sweep fetching him two boundaries, followed by Suryakumar getting down on one knee to heave a slower ball from Jordan over long-leg for six. Just before the ninth over began, rain began to pour heavily and forced everyone to get off the field for 75 minutes. After resumption, Suryakumar began by sweeping Rashid for four, followed by Rohit launching Livingstone for a massive six over long-on. Rohit brought up his fifty in 36 balls by sweeping Curran for six, while Suryakumar lofted inside-out and pulled to take two boundaries off him as 19 runs came off the 13th over. Post that, England bounced back as Rashid’s googly kept low and went past Rohit’s heave to castle him for 57. Archer’s return in the 16th over worked well when Suryakumar skied a back-of-the-hand slower ball to long-on. Pandya cut Archer for four, before hitting back-to-back sixes off Jordan. But the pacer had the last laugh as Pandya smashed his slower delivery to long-off, followed by Shivam Dube nicking behind for a golden duck to make a double strike in the 18th over. Jadeja’s two boundaries off Archer, followed by Patel pulling Jordan for six ensured India crossed the 170-run mark. Chasing 172, Jos Buttler hit four boundaries, including three off Arshdeep, to give England a strong start with 26 runs coming in the first three overs. But Axar and Jasprit Bumrah joined forces to leave England in tatters. On Axar’s first ball, Buttler looked to reverse-sweep but gave a top edge to keeper Rishabh Pant. Bumrah brought out his off-cutter to disturb Phil Salt’s leg-stump, followed by Axar getting one to stay low and hit Jonny Bairstow’s off-stump to dismiss him for a duck, as England ended the Power-play at 39/3. Things went from bad to worse for England as Moeen Ali tried to flick off Axar, but the ball lobbed off his thigh pad, and as he wandered out of the crease, Pant collected the ball to stump him quickly. Kuldeep pushed England further on backfoot by trapping Sam Curran plumb lbw in front of the middle stump, ratting a reverse-sweeping Harry Brook’s leg-stump and got one to spin back in to trap Chris Jordan lbw. Mix-ups resulted in runouts of Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid, and when Bumrah trapped Jofra Archer lbw, it triggered jubilant scenes as the ghost of Adelaide 2022 was firmly laid to rest in Guyana 2024, with the dream to win the elusive trophy still on course for a dominating India. Brief scores: India 171/7 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 57, Suryakumar Yadav 47; Chris Jordan 3-37, Adil Rashid 1-25) beat England 103 in 16.4 overs (Harry Brook 25; Kuldeep Yadav 3-19, Axar Patel 3-23) by 68 runs --IANS nr/bsk/

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