“Thought 170 was a very good score”: Rohit Sharma on batting flourish that set up thumping semi-final win

Rohit rotated his bowlers well vs ENG in the semi-final. (PC: X.com)

What was expected to be a closely fought contest between two top sides ended up being a rather one-sided affair as India outplayed England to take revenge for the 2022 semi-final defeat and advance to the final of the T20 World Cup for the third time.

Batting first, India faced early setbacks with the losses of Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant. However, Rohit Sharma, in exceptional form this tournament, played a captain’s knock and forged a crucial 73-run partnership for the third wicket with Suryakumar Yadav. This stand laid the foundation for a strong finish.

Late flourishes from Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, and Axar Patel helped India post 171/7 in their 20 overs.

“At one stage, (we were thinking) 140-150,” said Rohit after the match. “As the game went on, after that partnership, we said another 25 runs. I can set the target in my mind, but I don’t want to let anyone know about it, to the batters. They are all instinctive players. I thought 170 was a very good score on this surface.”

India will now come up against an unbeaten South Africa side at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on Saturday, June 29, with a reserve day in place if rain tries to play spoilsport.

“We understand the occasion (final),” said Rohit. “Staying composed helps you make good decisions. That’ll help us make it through the game. You’ve got to play good cricket. That’s what we want to do in the final.”

While Rohit excelled with the bat, it was Axar Patel who shone with the ball. He skilfully varied his pace, line, and lengths to return with match-winning figures of 3/23 from his four overs.

“The wicket was stopping and keeping low, so I tried to bowl in the right areas,” said Axar, who was player of the match. “The wicket was slow, so I tried to bowl slower in this match, it worked for me. It wouldn’t have worked if I had bowled quicker; it would have been easier for their batters.”

In the last three overs of the first innings, India accumulated 39 runs, which swung the momentum in their favour.

“We let them get 20-25 runs too many,” said Jos Buttler, England’s skipper. “It was a challenging surface that they played well on. They fully deserved this win. Very different conditions (than 2022), credit to India. They played a very good game of cricket. With the rain around, we didn’t expect the conditions to change too much. I don’t think it really did. They out-bowled us.”