Hardik Pandya revelled in the role of a finisher with a sensational 63 off 33 balls, lifting India to a par score of 168 for six against England in the second T20 World Cup semifinal in Adelaide on Thursday. Virat Kohli (50 off 40 balls) also occasionally displayed his regal array of strokes but it was the flamboyant Baroda man whose unbelievable end-over pyrotechnics took India to a more than respectable total, which had looked distinctly impossible after the first 10 overs.
In the last four overs, India scored 58 runs, courtesy four fours and five astonishing sixes from Pandya with a drop-dead gorgeous flick behind the square off Chris Jordan (3/43) being the stand out one.
KL Rahul’s (5) abject failure against bigger teams looked even more pronounced as Chris Woakes exposed his shortcomings with extra bounce in the second over.
But if India scored at least 20 runs less, blame it on skipper Rohit Sharma (27 off 28 balls) and the first 10 overs that yielded only 62 runs. In a semifinal, consuming 42 dot balls (effectively 7 maiden overs) doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
Had it not been for the sixes that Hardik hit off Sam Curran (0/42) and Jordan, India would have ended with a below-par score as Kohli, despite his fourth half-century, couldn’t up the ante.
For England, Adil Rashid (1/20 in 4 overs) was the best bowler on the park and one can only pray that India don’t miss Yuzvendra Chahal.
There are times it seems that Kohli is on a mission to be better than the best. The six over extra cover off Woakes was simply unbelievable. The head position, the stillness and transfer of weight, everything in sync.
There was a short arm bowler’s back-drive over Liam Livingstone’s head even as Rohit struggled at the other end.
The back to back boundaries off Sam Curran through mid-wicket region and similar shot over extra cover for a one-bounce boundary of Chris Jordan’s deliveries were the only three convincing shots from the India skipper.
Not even the slog sweep for four off Rashid looked like he was in control and the final outcome wasn’t certainly what people expected in a big ticket game from Rohit.
Pandya came to India’s rescue and changed the complexion of the innings.
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