India thumps England by 68 runs to set up T20 World Cup final against South Africa

PROVIDENCE, Guyana (AP) — India thumped defending champion England by 68 runs to reach the final of the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday.

India will face South Africa on Saturday at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados in a battle of the two unbeaten teams of the tournament.

Captain Rohit Sharma’s (57) second half-century helped India compile 171-7 and Suryakumar Yadav also blunted the England pace and spin with a vital knock of 47 off 36 balls after more than 2-1/2 hours of second semifinal was lost due to rain and wet outfield.

Spinners Axar Patel and the Kuldeep Yadav then combined in for 6-42 through some sharp turners as England got bowled out for 103 in 16.3 overs on a skiddy, low pitch devoid of grass to bow out of the tournament.

“If bowlers and batters adapt, things fall in place,” a beaming Sharma said. “Axar and Kuldeep are gun spinners. (It was) tough to play shots against them in these conditions (and) they were calm under pressure.”

Captain Jos Buttler smashed four boundaries in his 23 off 15 balls, but once he top-edged reverse sweep off left-arm spinner Patel’s first ball inside the power play and lobbed a simplest of catches to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, England kept on losing wickets with regular intervals.

“I’ve bowled in the powerplay in the past many times,” Patel said after being adjudged player of the semifinal. “Knew the wicket was assisting and didn’t try too many things.”

England had collapsed to 88-9 when Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid both got run out but Jofra Archer hit 21 off 15 balls before Jasprit Bumrah (2-12) finished off England by having Archer leg before wicket.

The win was sweet revenge for India, which got hammered by England by 10 wickets in the 2022 World Cup semifinal at Adelaide, Australia.

“India outplayed us,” Buttler said. “We let them get 20-25 runs too many on a challenging surface … they had an above-par total and it was always a tough chase.”

Earlier, Sharma and Yadav combined in a 73-run third wicket stand on a wicket where batters struggled to negotiate the variable bounce of pace and spin.

Virat Kohli’s below-par tournament continued after a wet outfield delayed the toss for 80 minutes and Buttler won the toss and elected to field.

Kohli took his run tally to disappointing 75 runs in seven games with run-a-ball knock of nine before Reece Topley cramped him for a big shot and hit the top of leg stump.

“We understand his (Kohli’s) class,” Sharma said in defense of his ace batter. “Form is never a problem when you’ve played for 15 years, probably saving for the final.”

Sharma continued his sublime form in the tournament on difficult pitches and countercharged on a yet another tough wicket for batters before heavy rain took the players off the field for another 73 minutes when India had reached 65-2 after eight overs.

Sharma reached his 50 after resumption of play with a swept six over fine leg off Sam Curran, and Yadav hammered the left-arm fast bowler to point for a six before both exited in successive overs.

Sharma was undone by a googly from Adil Rashid (1-25) in his last over and was clean bowled, while Yadav was deceived by Archer’s slower ball and ballooned a catch to long off.

Chris Jordan picked up 3-37 that included the wickets of Hardik Pandya (23) and Shivam Dube off successive balls, but India had piled up enough runs for its spinners to defend.


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