England’s skipper, Jos Buttler, believes his team is ready to play Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final in Melbourne on Sunday after overcoming a disappointing group-stage performance to defeat India by ten wickets in their semi-final.
After a loss to Ireland and a washout against Australia, Buttler and Alex Hales (86 from 47) won England’s third win in a row at Adelaide Oval with a six off Mohammad Shami’s final delivery of the 16th over. Buttler finished undefeated on 80 off 49 balls.
“[The Ireland game] feels a long time ago,” Buttler stated during post-match presentations. “Since then, we’ve shown incredible character to get through the tournament and perform our best today. We were thrilled to arrive. 1–11 collaboration. We always start fast and aggressively.”
England masked their nervousness well, with Chris Woakes’ early dismissal of KL Rahul setting the tone for a tight powerplay and a first 10 overs in which India were limited to 62 for 2. Hardik Pandya’s fast-finishing 63 from 33 justified the cautious platform-laying, but Hales and Buttler’s 63 for 0 in six overs made the chase a formality.
“Today was our greatest effort in the competition,” Buttler said. “An ideal run-chase. We can be aggressive because Adil Rashid was down at No.11. Hales used the ground dimensions today and we complement each other. Today, he partnered well.”
After injuries to Dawid Malan and Mark Wood, England had to change their XI for the first time in the tournament and adjust to Adelaide’s shorter square boundaries, a favorite hunting ground for Virat Kohli across all forms.
“I pondered the toss for a long time,” Buttler told Sky Sports. “if I won. I wanted to lose since someone told me no one has won the toss here. But I felt like chasing today. When India knows what to do, they are more dangerous. today. Today, it worked.”
Kohli’s magnificent performance against Pakistan in their final-ball group-stage win exemplified that tendency to pace a chase, but their loss to South Africa in Perth followed a similar path to this game, with a ponderous top-order display leaving too much ground to be made up by one man, Suryakumar Yadav, compared to Pandya today.
Given that Buttler entered the match with 225 runs from 116 balls in the competition and no apparent weakness against any bowling type, Yadav’s menace gave him the most concern. This time, Rashid caught him at deep point for 14 from 10 in a brilliant stint in which he gave only one boundary, from his first delivery.
“Interesting analyst chats,” Buttler remarked. “He adores him! Cricket requires one chance. Even 40 points would have won today. He gambles. He plays freely and takes chances. Rash hit him perfectly.”
Rashid entered the attack for the final over of the powerplay and was bowled out in the 12th after strangling India’s intent through the middle overs for 1 for 20. He dodged a match-up that could have hurt his stats by choosing left-handed Rishabh Pant over Dinesh Karthik, who loves taking the ball into his body.
“That’s why we employed him early,” Buttler added. “Today was his best in a while. He bowled seam-spun. I assumed he could get those folks out. Dilly’s wicket of Surya today was important.”
Recalled Chris Jordan took most of England’s wickets. He had a finger injury and scored 13 an over against Australia last month. Buttler relied on his expertise and got three wickets despite Pandya’s late onslaught.
“Chris Jordan has a lot of experience and fits this ground better than David Willey. I don’t think he thanked me for bowling him three overs straight through there at the death, so to come in your first game of the tournament and bowl at Hardik at that level was great.”
Buttler said Wood and Malan’s injuries were “good headaches” for the final, but he couldn’t say for sure. After scoring a hard-hitting 88 from 41 in Pakistan last month, Phil Salt, Malan’s replacement, was not needed on the night, but Buttler said he had been relishing his opportunity and would have taken on the short, square boundaries if given a chance.
Pakistan will be England’s final target. After back-to-back triumphs in Lahore, England leads the winter rivalry 4-3.
“They’re someone we’ve seen quite a lot of recently,” Buttler added. “They had a good run, but we’re just happy to be in the final. After the tension of the group stages, we wanted to enjoy tonight and show off our talent, which we’ll strive to do in the final.”