After Adelaide, Providence: Another India vs England semi-final

Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma
Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma (PC: X)

Alex Hales’s recent competitive match was a T20 fixture between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in Vitality Blast. Batting at No. 3 for the Notts, Hales scored 26 off 23 balls. The 35-year-old has retired from international cricket, but as India play a T20 World Cup semi-final against England in Providence, Guyana, on Thursday, Hales becomes relevant.

Nineteen months ago in Adelaide, his remarkable opening partnership with Jos Buttler decimated India in the semi-final of the 2022 T20 World Cup. Buttler had scored 80 not out off 49 balls in an unbroken opening stand of 170. Hales was even more brutal, making 86 not out off 47 deliveries, including seven sixes. The duo had forced India to make a paradigm shift in their white-ball approach.

Until 2022, India were playing an outdated brand of limited-overs cricket. It used to be slow burn – building partnerships upfront, keeping wickets in hand and then maximising the slog overs. After the hammering against England, it dawned on the think-tank that change was required. The old approach was binned, with a proactive brand replacing it. The new approach thrives on playing selfless cricket and Rohit Sharma is at the forefront of it.

Nasser Hussain spoke about it after Rohit’s brutal 41-ball 92 in India’s Super Eights fixture against Australia. “I think the change in mentality happened after that World T20 semi-final in Adelaide and that was noticeable in India in the 50-over World Cup and definitely noticeable as we have gone through this tournament (the ongoing T20 World Cup), as they have moved away from New York,” the former England captain said, speaking on Sky Sports podcast.

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Jos Buttler in nets
Jos Buttler in nets (PC: Debasis Sen)

Both India and England revel in their fearless batting mantra – India’s T20I batting template is actually copied from England – and it makes the semi-final a tasty affair. India, however, have an excess baggage to carry and it is their poor record in the knockouts of the ICC tournaments. Over the past 11 years, since their triumph in the 2013 Champions Trophy, India have played 10 knockout matches across formats and lost nine. They will have to do the course correction if they want to win this year’s T20 World Cup. The first hurdle is the semi-final against England and it is a tough one.

A few things have changed from the last edition of the tournament. India didn’t have Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav in 2022. Bumrah so far has taken 11 wickets in six matches at an economy rate of 4.08 in this T20 World Cup. Kuldeep has accounted for seven scalps in three games at an economy rate of 6.25. They are the two genuine match-winners.

India have ticked almost all the boxes as they romped to the semi-finals and the only matter of concern is Virat Kohli’s form. A five-ball duck against Australia took his tournament tally to 66 runs at 11.00, with a strike-rate of 100. He is clogging up the top order and putting extra pressure on his opening partner. England have a very good bowling attack if they take a few quick wickets, India’s batting would be under pressure. India choked in the World Cup (50-over format) final against Australia last year, when wickets fell in quick succession. They won’t like to have a repeat.

Another interesting aspect of the game could be the match-up between Adil Rashid and Shivam Dube. The England leg-spinner has been in fine form, with nine wickets from seven matches at an economy rate of 6.70. More than the numbers, Rashid has accounted for important scalps. Dube’s job would be to neutralise the leggie’s threat. His ability to hit the spinners in the middle-overs saw him get the nod ahead of Rinku Singh. Rashid’s stock delivery would come into him, allowing the left-hander to play with the turn. Dube needs to show he belongs.

Virat Kohli during net session
Virat Kohli during net session (PC: Debasis Sen)

The pitch at the Guyana National Stadium traditionally helps slow bowlers and the weather forecast is not good for the semi-final. Without a reserve day, India will qualify for the final in case of a washout. But nobody wants the clash of the heavyweights to be a damp squib.

India have moved like a freight train in this tournament. But they would be wary of their knockout blues.  England were on the brink of elimination before the defending champions turned things around. Now, the stage is set for a blockbuster contest, weather permitting.

Match details

June 27, Providence, 8 pm IST


India (possible): Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav

England (possible): Jos Buttler, Phil Salt, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Reece Topley

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