ICC T20 World Cup: Rohit Sharma’s Leadership, Axar Patel-Kuldeep Yadav’s Brilliance Propel India to T20 Final

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Reported By Varad Bhatkhande

Guyana, 28th June 2024: India faced England in the eagerly awaited semi-final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, with a final against mighty South Africa at stake. India comfortably won the semi-final by 68 runs, continuing their unbeaten streak in this tournament. Skipper Rohit Sharma’s innings of 57 runs, well supported by Suryakumar Yadav’s 47 runs, bolstered India’s batting performance. The spin duo of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav further strengthened India’s position by each taking 3 crucial wickets, dismantling England’s hopes and securing India’s place in the finals. Despite a lacklustre batting performance, England displayed resilience in the bowling department. However, as defending champions, they are now out of the tournament. This sets the stage for an intense showdown between South Africa and India, both vying for the prestigious trophy.

In a highly anticipated World T20 semi-final, persistent rain delayed the match by an hour. England’s captain, Josh Buttler, won the toss and chose to field, citing the pitch’s lower bounce post-rain. Buttler expressed confidence in his team’s readiness. Indian skipper Rohit Sharma noted their initial plan to bat first, considering the slowing pitch, and acknowledged the tournament’s logistical challenges, but aimed to deliver a competitive performance.

Both the England and Indian sides remained unchanged, opting to stick with the plans that had proven successful for them during the group stage and finals, aiming to maintain momentum into the knockout phase.

With continuous rain predicted in Guyana, hopes for an uninterrupted match were bleak. A potential cancellation due to rain would have favoured India, given their superior Super 8 record. However, England’s decision to bowl first could have provided an advantage in managing interruptions, leveraging pitch familiarity and DLS criteria knowledge. The rain delay heightened suspense, leaving teams and fans eagerly awaiting any chance to resume play.

Sharma’s 57 Guides India to 171

In a crucial match, India’s top order faced a stern challenge from England’s bowling attack as they aimed to set a defendable target. Opening batsmen Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli took to the crease, but Kohli, struggling to find his form, departed early, bowled out by Reece Topley for just 9 runs. Rishabh Pant, joining captain Sharma, also failed to make a significant impact, departing for 4 runs. Despite initial setbacks, Sharma anchored India’s innings with a solid partnership alongside Suryakumar Yadav after a rain interruption halted play briefly. Sharma marked a milestone by reaching his half-century and surpassing 5,000 runs as India’s captain but fell for 57 runs off 39 balls to Adil Rashid’s bowling. Suryakumar Yadav, playing a supporting role, contributed 47 runs off 36 balls before his dismissal.

India concluded their innings at 171 runs for 7 wickets, with England’s bowling led by Chris Jordan’s three crucial wickets. Jordan’s spell included dismissals of Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, and Axar Patel, while Sam Curran also chipped in with a wicket despite being on the expensive side. Overall, England’s disciplined bowling effort restricted India from posting a higher total, setting up an intriguing chase in the contest.

India Dominates, Advances to Finals

Chasing 172 runs, England opened with Phil Salt and Captain Jos Buttler. They started steadily, scoring 5 runs in the first over. However, Buttler’s aggressive play in the 3rd over was short-lived as he was caught behind by Pant off Axar Patel for 23 off 15 balls. Moeen Ali joined Salt but was bowled out by Bumrah for 5 runs. Johnny Bairstow, carrying England’s hopes, was clean-bowled by Axar without scoring. Harry Brook joined Ali, and England managed only 39 runs for 3 wickets in the powerplay.

India’s spin attack continued in the middle overs with Axar Patel dismissing Ali for 8 runs. Brook was clean-bowled by Kuldeep for 25 off 19 balls. Sam Curran, the pinch hitter, surrendered to Kuldeep Yadav for 2 runs. Liam Livingstone, England’s last recognized batsman, was run out due to poor communication, scoring 11 off 16 balls. By the 10th over, England had reached 62 runs with 5 wickets down. Kuldeep reached a milestone of 200 T20 wickets by dismissing Jordan. Despite some late hitting by Archer, England was all out for 103 runs. India won by 68 runs, with Axar Patel taking 3 wickets for 23 runs and Kuldeep Yadav taking key wickets.

Player of the match Axar Patel said after the match, “In the past, I have bowled many overs in the powerplay. I knew the advantage was with the bowlers, so I just focused on bowling in the right areas. I tried to bowl a little slower, and it worked for me. Our batsmen informed us that the wicket wasn’t easy, so we knew we had a great chance.”

India’s victory over England by 68 runs means they will now face South Africa in the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 final. This victory was sweet revenge for India against England, who had outmatched them in their last tournament encounter in 2022, winning by 10 wickets. Now, having secured their revenge, India faces their final challenge against the Proteas to claim this long-awaited ICC trophy. South Africa, too, will be focused on winning their first-ever T20 World Cup title. All eyes are now on the final, set to take place on Saturday between India and South Africa.