T20 World Cup: Win not by chance, but by design
Tactics, strategies, mind games and the ability to handle pressure turn out to be the determining factors in the knockout stage of a world event. Time and again, these have gained precedence over a team’s overall quality.
On Thursday at the Adelaide Oval, England did not just rely on Alex Hales and captain Jos Buttler’s magnificent strokeplay to thrash India in the second semi-final of this T20 World Cup, they outsmarted India in terms of tactics and strategies as well to book a ticket to Sunday’s final in Melbourne.
England managed to keep India’s scoring rate well under control after opting to bowl. Given KL Rahul’s mode of dismissals against Pakistan and South Africa in the Super 12 stage, England knew he was having concerns outside the off-stump. Chris Woakes did accordingly, shaping the ball just a little bit away that induced a nothing shot from Rahul and sent him back early for the fourth time in six matches.
A back-in-form Virat Kohli playing at his favourite Adelaide Oval was a big threat for England. But Buttler’s ploy to bring left-arm seamer Sam Curran into the attack soon thereafter worked.
Curran, who has had success in the past against the former India captain, focused on that outside off-stump channel, which looked to be creating a few doubts in Kohli’s mind. Kohli being unable to score freely added to the pressure on Rohit, who eventually perished to a false shot off Chris Jordan.
The period after Rohit’s dismissal was a critical one for both teams. Considering Suryakumar Yadav’s current form, he was a threat for England.
Buttler didn’t delay in turning to Adil Rashid, one of England’s key weapons in white-ball cricket. Surya had warmed up with a six and a four, but he failed to prevail over Rashid. The leg-spinner, anticipating Surya would go after him, took pace off the ball and shortened his length just a wee bit which made a charging Surya hole out at deep point.
With wrist spinners Rashid (1/20) and Liam Livingstone (0/21) doing the job, England did not need off-spinner Moeen Ali to bowl at all.
When India bowled, they were not as smart as England. An experienced seamer like Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept bowling the same line even when Buttler was having no problems in scoring off those deliveries. Back in England during the T20I series in July, Bhuvneshwar had troubled and dismissed Buttler by tailing the ball back in. Surprisingly, he didn’t even try that on Thursday.
Also baffling was the fact that the in-form Arshdeep Singh was given just one over in his first spell. That after he conceded only eight runs off that over. By the time the left-arm quick came on to bowl his second over, the game was completely under England’s control as they needed only 78 off 11 overs.