Bindaas Rohit and Jos Buttler will be masters of their teams’ destiny

Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma
Jos Buttler and Rohit Sharma (PC: Debasis Sen)

The campaign is over. And how. India just did not compete and that’s what was the most disappointing. We leave Australia with many more questions than answers. Before we started out for Australia to embark on this much anticipated campaign, the talk was all about approach. That there will be a new template. There will be intent at the top and we will see a different India in the powerplays. Sadly none of this talk was seen on the field down under.

This was how I had started my match report after India lost to England in Australia in November 2022.

“We love to play Bindaas cricket”- Rohit Sharma in the pre match press conference in Guyana last night.

That’s what has changed. In Australia, it was all talk. So far in the West Indies, it is talk backed by action. India played the perfect match against Bangladesh, and followed it up with yet another near-perfect display against Australia. And each time, the captain led from the front. And that’s what it could boil down to on Thursday in Guyana. Rohit versus Buttler. Two greats of the contemporary white-ball game pitted against each other. Both have the skill and the temperament. Both are fantastic strikers of the cricket ball and, most importantly, have the ability to win cricket matches for their teams.

Leading quality sides, both will know this is a serious opportunity. Weather permitting, a World Cup is on the line and three hours and 40 overs of quality cricket could mean you are within sniffing distance of a global trophy. For England, it would be a step nearer defending the crown, and for Rohit, a step closer to undoing an 11-year-long curse.

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Team India hurdle at net session ahead of ICC T20 WC Semi-final vs England
Team India hurdle at net session ahead of ICC T20 WC Semi-final vs England (PC: Debasis Sen)

Interestingly, both Rohit and Buttler on song are two of the best cricketers to watch in the contemporary game. The shot over extra cover for six against Australia, for example, is evidence why Rohit is a league above the rest. Dancing down the track, perfect freeing of the arms, the bat angle perfect, it was just a perfect canvas painted with a cricket bat in hand. And once the shot was complete, the ball had one destination to travel to. Beyond the boundary, with class written all over the stroke. It was arrogance and elegance combined and a real statement for all to see.

The same can be said of Buttler. England needed to mend their run rate against the USA and Buttler came out with the speed of a hurricane. 80-plus in 35 balls and the USA did not have a chance. That’s what is so good about Buttler- in full flow, he has the ability to close down a game and even the best bowlers don’t really have a chance.

Tactically too, both are excellent leaders of men. Rohit promoting Rishabh Pant or going to Axar Patel at No. 4 against Pakistan is proof. Butlter too has used Adil Rashid to good effect and will know he needs to make the best use of his spinners to stop India on a wicket which will offer some turn. With plenty of match-winners in their ranks, Buttler knows he can afford to push Moeen Ali up the order if need be, and is never shy of taking control. That’s what it will be about in the semi-final. Taking control and seizing the moments.

Whichever leader does that will take the match. Two gladiators of the highest pedigree pitted against each other and watched by millions from across the world. Two greats of the white-ball game both wanting to go the distance and make a statement. Both refusing to back down and enjoying it. It is well and truly the clash of the titans if ever there was one. Whoever wins, one thing is for certain. Both will give it their absolute best and will have nothing left in the tank. Effort will be paramount, and as fans, that’s what you want to see. India v England is exactly what a semi-final should be like, with Rohit v Buttler the battle within the larger war.

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