Jos Buttler’s reaction said it all.
In the ultimate game of hit and giggle, the wicket-keeper batter was in disbelief at what he and Alex Hales achieved as he ended the game in style by smashing Mohammed Shami for six.
Just as Pakistan’s opening pair Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan delivered the knockout blow at last year’s World Cup, England’s openers followed suit in the most spectacular fashion.
After Hardik Pandya and Virat Kohli saw India scrape their way to 6-168, Hales (86) and Buttler (80) led England to an incredible 10-wicket win.
Here are our talking points from England’s emphatic victory, which has booked them a date with Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final.
If England’s selectors had their way, Alex Hales would never have been playing Down Under in the World Cup.
Hales was frozen out by England after failing a recreational drugs test at the start of the 2019 summer.
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Hales LAUNCHES England into Final! | 01:24
Former captain Michael Vaughan slammed the decision to look past him.
“Find it very sad that someone who made a huge mistake but was punished can’t be given another,” he tweeted last year.
“We all (make) mistakes every week!! Those that say they don’t are lying.”
But it wasn’t until Eoin Morgan stood down as captain and Jonny Bairstow stepped off a golf tee that Hales was given a lifeline.
And thank goodness they did, as Hales took charge from the outset and saw England home against the A-listers of world cricket.
The right-hander, whose home away from home is Australia having played club cricket in Adelaide and Sydney and been a regular in the Big Bash, smashed 86 from 47. His innings included four boundaries and seven sixes.
“I mean I never thought I’d play in a World Cup again,” he said. ”So to get the chance is a very special feeling in a country I love and spent a lot of time in. Tonight is one of the best nights of my career.”
UGLY MOMENT THAT SUMMED UP INDIA
If there was a moment that summed up India’s day it was their ugly mix-up in the ninth over in the field.
No catch was spilt, no wicket went begging, but Shami’s decision to try and lob a ball from the deep to a teammate saw fingers being pointed and eyes rolling.
With England cruising at 0-85, Buttler swept the lap-swept the ball down to fine-leg.
What should have been a simple two turned into an all-run four as Shami missed his teammate and lobbed the ball well past his friend in the deep.
“Oh no they should get more here,” former England captain Michael Atherton said in commentary.
“That’s a bizarre, bizarre all-run four for Jos Buttler and Hardik is not amused.”
Atherton’s colleague Pommie Mbangwa summed it up.
“That reaction tells you everything, the skipper’s reaction tells you everything because it’s all going wrong for India,” he said.
Worse was still to come as Suryakumar Yadav dropped a ball running back to catch Buttler and only managed to parry it away from him and into the rope for four.
Clutch King Kohli saves India with 50 | 01:28
KOHLI IS BACK
Virat Kohli has always had a love affair with Adelaide. He scored twin centuries in the City of Churches and it felt written in the stars that he would continue on his merry way.
The former Indian captain looked in sublime touch from the outset as he posted his fourth half-century of the tournament.
He eventually found support from Pandya in the final few overs, but India’s struggles early on, where Rohit Sharma’s struggles continued, left the cricket powerhouse nation too much work to do at the death.
Nonetheless Kohli showed he is well and truly back on the international stage.
His numbers in T20 cricket never really dipped but his overall output certainly dropped.
With a crunch 12 months ahead for India, including a home Test series against Australia and a ODI World Cup, Kohli’s return to form can only bode well.
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THE AUSSIES WITH SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR
Australia might not be in the World Cup final, but there will be a massive Aussie influence on the event nonetheless.
Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Matthew Mott and David Saker will all be involved in either coaching or mentoring roles on either side of the divide.
Hayden has been brought on as a mentor for Pakistan and has been an inspiration to a group that was down-and-out after losing the first two matches of the tournament.
The Australian legend has been widely praised for his inspirational touch after his rousing speech in the Pakistan sheds before the semi finals went viral.
In the final, he will come up against some familiar faces, including former Test teammate Hussey, who is an England assistant at the tournament.
Hussey was brought on board by England’s new white ball coach Mott, who landed the top gig after winning virtually everything he could with Australia’s women’s side.
They have been joined by another Australian in Saker, who has signed on in a short-term consultancy role to work with England’s bowlers, as he has done several times before.
What impact each figure has had is hard to say, but England’s win over India was one of the most ruthless ever seen at the T20 World Cup, while Pakistan could produce the tournament’s greatest comeback story.
Both England and Pakistan might’ve started the tournament slowly, but they have continuously improved and have now peaked with the final up next.
Meanwhile, Australia’s cricketers will be at home, patiently waiting for an ODI series to start against England next week. At least the Aussie flag is, in a small way, still flying high despite their exit.
INDIA MISS FEAR FACTOR
While India exploded out of the blocks thanks to Kohli in their opening match, India lacked variety and specifically pace with the ball.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Shami are all fine bowlers, but did anyone fear them?
India lacked someone with genuine pace and X-factor.
Unfortunately for India, their strike bowler Jasprit Bumrah was missing,
He wasn’t the only one missing, with Ravindra Jadeja also out with injury.
India’s attack weren’t helped by the par score their batters hit, but the tone was set for England’s successful runchase when Buttler struck three boundaries from the opening over.
The quicks missed their lines early and by the time Ashwin was brought on, England were soaring at 0-63 off six overs. There was no coming back from that point.
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