• Thursday, July 18, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

T20 World Cup 2024: India to face South Africa in final

A dominant India ended England’s title defence by handing them a 68-run thumping in the second semi-final

Axar Patel of India (C) celebrates the wicket of Jonny Bairstow of England with teammates during the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup at Providence Stadium on June 27, 2024 in Georgetown, Guyana. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

UNBEATEN throughout almost a month of cricket across the USA and the Caribbean, India and South Africa will face off at the Kensington Oval on Saturday (29) in the T20 World Cup final both looking to end long waits for glory.

A tournament which has been a mixed bag in terms of quality, entertainment and attendances, has certainly succeeded in setting up a final between the two best teams in the shortest format.

India crushed defending champions England by 68 runs in Guyana on Thursday (27), the day after South Africa thrashed Afghanistan by nine wickets in Trinidad to end a long and agonising wait for a title game.

This will be South Africa’s first senior men’s final since the inaugural Champions Trophy in Bangladesh in 1998 when the Proteas beat the West Indies in the title match.

Over the years they have been labelled ‘chokers’ by their critics and had many question how a nation that has produced so many talented players, hasn’t been able to make a final for 26 years.

On Thursday, a dominant India ended England’s title defence with a thrilling win. Put into bat in the rain-hit match, India posted a strong 171-7 with skipper Rohit Sharma (57) and Suryakumar Yadav (47) scoring bulk of the runs on a slow track at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.

The 2007 champions then returned to bundle out England for 103 inside 17 overs with their spin duo of Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav wreaking havoc with the turning ball.

“It’s very satisfying to win this game,” an elated Rohit, playing potentially his last T20 World Cup, said.

“We worked really hard as a unit. To win like that was a great effort from everybody.”

Rain and a wet outfield delayed start of the match and England captain Jos Buttler elected to field after winning the toss.

India managed 46 runs from the six power-play overs and it cost them the wickets of Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant.

Rohit began with a couple of streaky shots but soon grew in confidence.

Suryakumar, at the other end, scooped Chris Jordan over fine leg in what has been his trademark shot for a six before rain stopped play with India 65-2 in eight overs.

Once play resumed more than an hour later, Rohit reached his 36-ball fifty with a six, which also brought up India’s 100 in the 13th over.

Adil Rashid bowled Rohit and Jofra Archer denied Suryakumar a fifty to temporarily peg back India.

Jordan (3-37) dismissed Hardik Pandya and Shivam Dube with successive deliveries but India still managed to post a competitive total.

England began briskly but were reeling at 49-5 after a top order meltdown triggered by Axar (3-23).

The left-arm spinner dismissed Buttler (23) with his first ball and removed Jonny Bairstow for a duck in his next over.

In between, Phil Salt had his leg stump pegged back by Jasprit Bumrah.

Player-of-the-match Axar returned to dismiss Moeen Ali stumped before fellow spinner Kuldeep (3-19) twisted the knife on a slow pitch where the ball occasionally kept low.

The left-arm wrist spinner trapped both Sam Curran and Jordan and clean bowled Harry Brook (25) to put India firmly in charge.

“India outplayed us, certainly,” Buttler said.

“We let them maybe get 20-25 too many on a challenging surface that they played well on. They fully deserved to win.”

Under Buttler, England failed to defend their 50-overs World Cup title in India last year.

India have the chance to banish the memory of their loss to Australia in the final of the 50-over World Cup on home soil last year.

Despite India being the epicentre of the T20 game, through the hugely successful Indian Premier League competition, their only triumph in this competition came 17 years ago.

India’s last trophy of any kind was the Champions Trophy in 2013.

But the team have taken care of their business with little drama, beating arch-rivals Pakistan in New York and going on to win their group before a key win over Australia in the Super Eights.

(Agencies)

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