Rohit Sharma and spinners take India to the T20 World Cup final for the third time

Rohit Sharma and spinners take India to the T20 World Cup final for the third time

India displayed its talent to the fullest and entered the final of the T20 World Cup by defeating England by 68 runs in the semi-final here on Thursday.

Once again, India's inspirational skipper Rohit Sharma performed brilliantly, laying the foundation for the team with an aggressive innings of 57 runs off 39 balls. The skipper was well supported by Suryakumar Yadav (47 off 36 balls) as India scored 171 for seven after batting first in a rain-affected match.

In reply, England were bowled out for 103 in 16.4 overs and India will play their first ever title clash against South Africa in Barbados on Saturday. This is India's third entry into the final of the tournament.

Hardik Pandya took charge of India at a crucial time by scoring 23 runs with the help of two sixes in 13 balls.

On a slow, low-bounce pitch, left-armer Axar Patel (3/23) helped India gain control of the match with his brilliant bowling while his slow-bowling partner Kuldeep Yadav (3/19) did the damage in the middle overs.

The Indian team thus avenged their crushing 10-wicket defeat against the defending champions in the semi-finals of the 2022 mega-event at the Adelaide Oval.

In the process, Rohit becomes the first Indian captain to lead the country in three ICC global finals in a span of 12 months – the 2023 World Test Championship, the 2023 ODI World Cup and now the T20 World Cup.

Given India's all-round bowling attack and the nature of the surface, Rohit's team was expected to defend this score and they did the task with ease.

His decision to use Axar in the powerplay proved to be a masterstroke as the left-arm spinner took two consecutive wickets from which England could not recover.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep also played his role well throughout the tournament on the spinner-friendly pitch.

Jos Buttler (23 off 15 balls), Harry Brook (25 off 19 balls) and Jofra Archer (21 off 15 balls) were the only two England batsmen to reach double figures, proving India's dominance in the game. Buttler and Brook were both dismissed while attempting reverse sweeps against Axar and Kuldeep.

Rohit said after the match, “We adapted very well to the conditions. It was a challenge and we adapted to it. We played very well to the conditions.”

India, who are yet to lose a match in the tournament, will be hoping that their star batsman Virat Kohli scores runs in this crucial title clash. Kohli (9 off 9 balls) was once again dismissed early while trying to score runs on Thursday.

The much-anticipated match saw play start one hour and 15 minutes late due to intermittent rain. Another long interruption came when India were 65 for two in eight overs.

250 extra minutes were allotted for the game but there was no reserve day.

As soon as Kohli and Rohit came out to bat after England bowled out the opposition, it became evident that the surface was slow and low bounce made things difficult for the batsmen.

Even after Kohli's early dismissal, Rohit adapted better to the conditions and decided to play the ball late and behind the stumps. An example of this was the guide to backward point off Archer in the second over, when the ball went to the boundary off Phil Salt's hands. Setting the benchmark for other batsmen, Rohit hit two consecutive fours in Topley's third over and then put pressure on England's premier spinner Adil Rashid after India had scored 46 for two in the powerplay.

Rishabh Pant (4) was the other batsman to get out, mistimed his flick off Sam Curran and was caught at midwicket.

What followed was a thrilling contest between Rohit and Rashid, with the Indian skipper using the reverse and conventional sweep to hit two boundaries in the leg-spinner's opening over.

SuryaKumar and Rohit were batting on 13 when rain returned at the Providence Stadium, forcing play to be halted for over an hour.

The weather played spoilsport just two balls later when Surya Kumar Yadav tried to hit a six over fine leg off Jordan.

England used the leg spin of Rashid and Liam Livingstone from both ends after the break but they could not stop Rohit and Suryakumar.

Rashid's full-toss was swept to short fine leg for four, the first of many boundaries India collected in the middle overs.

India scored 19 runs in Curran's 13th over in which Suryakumar hit two sixes and Rohit played a pick-up shot for a six, thus completing his second consecutive half-century.

The entertaining 73-run partnership ended when Rohit was caught off Rashid's googly while attempting to slog.

India's fours remained quiet after Curran's 13th over before Hardik Pandya (23 off 13 balls) took the innings forward by hitting two sixes on both sides of the pitch.

Ravindra Jadeja (17 not out off 9 balls), who was sent in ahead of Shivam Dube, smashed two crucial boundaries off Archer in the penultimate over while the latter stayed at the crease for just one ball.

India crossed the 170-run mark with Akshar hitting a six off Jordan's ball in the last over. The team scored 53 runs in the last five overs.

Brief score

India 171 for 7 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 57, Suryakumar Yadav 47, Hardik Pandya 23, Chris Jordan 3/37, Adil Rashid 1/25, Jofra Archer 1/33, Reece Topley 1/25, Sam Curran 1/25) England 103 for 16.4 overs (Axar Patel 3/23, Kuldeep Yadav 3/19, Jasprit Bumrah 2/12).

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