India flaunted their superabundance of talent in a display of absolute dominance to storm into the final of the T20 World Cup with a 68-run shellacking of England in their semi-final in Guyana on Thursday. Leading the charge once again was their inspirational skipper Rohit Sharma, who laid the foundation with an aggressive 57 off 39 balls, and the captain was well-supported by Suryakumar Yadav (47 off 36), as India posted 171 for seven after being asked to bat first in the rain-hit match.

In reply, England were bowled out for 103 in 16.4 overs as India set up a title clash with first-timers South Africa in Barbados on Saturday. This is India’s third entry into the final of the tournament.

Hardik Pandya chipped in with a 13-ball 23, striking two sixes at a crucial juncture to prop up India.

On a slow, holding pitch with low bounce, left-arm Axar Patel (3/23) helped India tightened their grip on the match with his brilliant bowling, while his slow-bowling colleague Kuldeep Yadav (3/19) caused the damage in the middle overs.

The Indian team thus exacted revenge for the crushing 10-wicket loss it endured against the defending champions in the 2022 semifinal of the mega-event at the Adelaide Oval.

In the process, Rohit became the first Indian captain to lead the country in three ICC global finals in a space of 12 months — 2023 World Test Championship, 2023 ODI World Cup and now the T20 World Cup.

Considering India’s all-round bowling attack and nature of the surface, Rohit’s men were expected to defend the total and they did that rather comfortably.

His decision to use Axar in the powerplay proved to be a masterstroke as the left-arm spinner struck twice in quick succession, from which England could not recover.

Wrist spinner Kuldeep also played his part to perfection on a pitch that suited the spinners all through the competition.

Jos Buttler (23 off 15), Harry Brook (25 off 19) and Jofra Archer (21 off 15) were the only England batters to reach double figures, summing up India’s dominance in the game. Both Buttler and Brook fell while attempting the reverse sweep against Axar and Kuldeep respectively.

“We adapted to the conditions really well. It was a challenge and we adapted. We played the conditions really well,” Rohit said after the match.

India, who are yet to lose a game in the tournament, will be hoping that their star batter Virat Kohli finds run in the all-important title clash. Kohli (9 off 9) perished early once again on Thursday, trying to force the pace.

The keenly awaited fixture was impacted by intermittent rain with the start of play being delayed by one hour and 15 minutes. Another long halt came when India were 65 for two in eight overs.

As many as 250 additional minutes were allotted to the game but there was no reserve day.

Soon after Kohli and Rohit came out to bat after England put the opposition in, it became clear the surface was on the slower side and low bounce made the task trickier for the batters.

While Kohli fell early, Rohit adapted to the conditions much better and decided to play the ball late and behind the stumps. One example of that was the guide over backward point off Archer in the second over when the ball went through Phil Salt’s hands to reach the boundary. Setting the benchmark for other batters, Rohit then collected back-to-back fours in Topley’s third over before applying pressure on England’s premier spinner Adil Rashid after India reached 46 for two in the powerplay.

Rishabh Pant (4) was the second batter to be dismissed as he mistimed a flick to be caught at midwicket off Sam Curran.

Then came the engrossing match-up between Rohit and Rashid where the Indian captain employed the reverse and conventional sweep to collect two fours from the leg-spinner’s opening over.

Suryakumar was batting on 13 alongside Rohit when rain returned at the Providence Stadium, forcing the game to be paused for more than an hour.

The weather played spoilsport two balls after Suryakumar got inside the line to pick Jordan over fine leg for a maximum.

England used the leg-spin of Rashid and Liam Livingstone from both ends after the forced break but they could not stifle Rohit and Suryakumar.

A full toss from Rashid was duly dispatched over short fine leg for four, the first of many boundaries that India accumulated in the middle overs.

The 13th over from Curran yielded 19 runs for India with Suryakumar smashing a couple of sixes and Rohit played a pick-up shot for a maximum that also brought up his second successive fifty.

The entertaining 73-run ended when Rohit was beaten by a googly from Rashid while attempting a slog.

Following Curran’s bumper 13th over, the next fours were quiet for India before Hardik Pandya (23 off 13) hit two flat sixes on either side of the pitch to push the innings forward.

Ravindra Jadeja (17 not out off 9), sent ahead of Shivam Dube, got two crucial fours off Archer in the penultimate over while the latter’s stay lasted only one ball.

Axar’s six off Jordan in the final over took India past 170. The team scored 53 runs in the last five overs. 

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