17/04/2024

Alex Hales of England during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Semi Final match between India and England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo : Izhar Khan )

With three years between outings representing England, Alex Hales produced his most destructive performance when it mattered most to send his team into the ICC T20 World Cup final on Sunday.

Showcasing the big-hitting game he has been renowned for in domestic leagues around the world, he truly repaid the faith of selectors on Thursday night against India.

With Pakistan qualifying after besting New Zealand on Wednesday night, it was England that would join them in the final after a 10-wicket rout of India at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday night in front of 40,094 people. Most of which were passionate and very vocal Indian supporters.

Chasing 168 off the 20 overs, opening batters Alex Hales and captain Jos Buttler got the job done within 17 overs. England was methodical but ruthless in their chase with Buttler being the aggressor from the outset. Facing only two balls in the first two overs, Hales well and truly got into the game after the third over posting a strike rate that was just under 200 in the latter stages of the innings.

The player of the match performance saw Hales hit 86 not out off of 47 deliveries to become one-half of the biggest batting partnership in ICC World Cup history. His impressive knock started after making it his half-ton off 28 balls (1 four and 5 sixes).

This completes his comeback to the national side after his international exile. Speaking to the media post-game, Hales sheds some light on what it’s like to return to the side and possibly take home some silverware on Sunday.

“It’s a great feeling, getting to play cricket for England again and at a time where I feel like I’m playing the best T20 cricket of my career is a great feeling, it’s maybe a chance I didn’t think would come around again,” Hales explained.

“[Redemption] was not on my mind, to be honest, I’m enjoying being back in an England shirt and that’s not why I play the game, I just want to enjoy myself at the highest level and tonight’s just one of those times where winning a medal would just be the icing on the cake.”

Buttler was the anchor at the other end but also got the chance to showcase why he is one of the best white ball batters in the world. Going through the gears and showing how destructive he can be on his way too 80* off 49 balls, upping his strike rate towards the final overs.

The two batters combined for a 170-run partnership in the middle to put India well and truly to the sword by the twelfth over.

He spoke post game about how he sees Hales’ game and what his strengths are in the game.

“He has absolutely delivered in spades, he’s immensely tough to bowl at and it’s fantastic to be at the other end and watch him go about his business. He has such a wide range of shots and the dimensions of the ground, he played them fantastically well,” Buttler said.

Fronting the media post-match, Indian head coach Rahul Dravid explains how important getting the wicket of Buttler was to winning the match.

“He’s a very dangerous player and we knew that, we knew that the key to the game was to obviously break that opening partnership as quickly as we could,” Dravid said.

“[Against] class players like that you have to bowl better, I thought that their partnership was fantastic.”

“He’s a class player, someone like Buttler is and I mean you don’t need me to say that, he’s probably one of the most dangerous T20 players going around.”

Jos Buttler (C) of England plays a shot during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Final match between India and England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan )

Earlier on in the match, the first innings saw English spinner Adil Rashid take it up to the Indian batters. Rashid was the pick of the English bowlers, bowling at an economy of five off his four overs keeping the strike rate down while also getting the wicket of Suryakumar Yadav who was starting to get his eye in at the crease.

Buttler speaks about how important Rashid was to the team’s performance, particularly in tying down the Indian batters.

“I thought the bowlers were outstanding, I think Adil Rashid after a while was so tough to play and he looked like he’d get a wicket every over,” Buttler said.

Incoming pace bowler Chris Jordan, who came into the starting XI in place of the injured Mark Wood, reprised his role at the death, bowling three overs at the end of the innings. He had a higher economy on paper, however his wicket-taking was the important statistic on the night, netting the prized scalps of the dangerous Indian trio Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma.

“[For him] to come into such a high pressured game not playing so far in the tournament and I asked a huge amount of him there to bowl three overs straight through at the death against such a great hitter of the ball like Hardik Pandya, so that’s a hell of a performance by Chris Jordan.”

Adil Rashid of England celebrates the wicket of Suryakumar Yadav of India during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Final match between India and England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan )

Winning by ten wickets indicates a near-faultless game played by England, Buttler spoke with pride about his side however he is keeping it calm ahead of the final.

“I’m immensely proud of the guys, that was a brilliant performance and by far our best performance in the tournament and to do it on a day like today and in such a high-pressure game is immensely satisfying.

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Despite being outclassed with the bat, the ball, and in the field, two of India’s batters were shining lights against England. Virat Kohli came out to the middle after KL Rahul was dismissed for just a-run a-ball five.

Kohli, as he had done all tournament for India, really set up the foundation for the team scoring a half-century off 40 balls including one six and 4 fours. He had a few partners in Yadav (14 off 10 balls) and Pandya who hit the most runs for India.

Virat Kohli of India during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Final match between India and England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan)

Pandya was the one Indian batter to score over 50 runs, looking the most comfortable facing the English attack. Hitting 63 off 33 deliveries, he had an enterprising innings, featuring four fours and five sixes before being dismissed by Jordan in the final over.

Hardik Pandya of India during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Semi-Final match between India and England at Adelaide Oval on November 10, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo: Izhar Khan )

England will face Pakistan on Sunday night for the title while India laments a performance by a better team on the day.

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