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T20 WC 2022: What went wrong for India in the Semifinal against England?

England thrashed India by 10 wickets in the second semifinal of the T20 World Cup at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday, and even “thrashed” seems to underplay the magnitude of India’s defeat. “Annihilated” or “decimated” should probably serve the purpose better.

It was sickening for an Indian supporter to see how the England openers Alex Hales and Jos Buttler made short work of India’s what seemed a reasonable total of 168 and absolutely clobbered their bowling attack in the process.

The fact that England did not lose a single wicket in their run chase and won with as many as four overs to spare only undermines the lopsidedness of the contest. In this context, it can be mentioned that India lost to Pakistan by the same margin in last year’s T20 World Cup, too.

In this article, we will analyse why the contest was rather anticlimactic after India topped their group in Super 12.

Not enough runs on the board and an inability to utilize the power play

On paper, 168 might seem like a competitive total, given that New Zealand could score only 152 on Wednesday in Sydney and still managed to stretch the contest till the final over against Pakistan. However, one has to keep in mind that Adelaide’s conditions were much more batter-friendly than in Sydney.

The pitch at the Adelaide Oval played true and helped the stroke players immensely. It was particularly evident in how the English openers played shots off their back foot. They trusted the bounce of the wicket, and their faith was repaid quite handsomely in the end.

In such a scenario, one has to question the justification of Virat Kohli’s sedate knock of 50 from 40 deliveries and Rohit Sharma’s 27 off 28. England played with destructive intent from the beginning and scored 63 in their powerplay, whereas India managed only 38 despite losing only one wicket. Had Hardik Pandya not played that whirlwind knock of 63 off only 33 balls, India would have scored even less. Hence, the two senior-most batters will have to should the responsibility for India’s below-par score.

Suryakumar Yadav could not get going on Thursday, but his intent was alright, and he did not waste too many deliveries. Kohli’s strike rate of 125 on that track cannot be justified despite being the leading run-scorer in the tournament and making yet another half-century on Thursday.

Kohli’s approach can be likened to that of Kane Williamson against Pakistan a day before, as the Kiwi skipper also played a patient knock of 46 that did not quite serve the purpose in the end. Like New Zealand on Wednesday, India also had plenty of wickets left at the end of their innings yet failed to put up enough runs on the board. And as we have mentioned earlier, the Adelaide track was much more batter-friendly than the Sydney one.

The ineptness of the Indian spinners

Yes, the Indian pacers went for a lot of runs as well, but so did the English ones on a pitch that offered true bounce, and the batters, quite naturally, backed themselves against faster deliveries. However, the English leg-spinners Adil Rashid and Liam Livingstone conceded only 41 runs between them off seven overs. In contrast, Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin leaked 57 runs off six between them.

Axar was the most economical Indian bowler, along with Arshdeep Singh, on Thursday, but he was too one-dimensional to get wickets and thereby put pressure on England. He kept bowling with his round-arm action with a horizontal seam, and the ball straightened at times after getting pitched. As he could hardly turn the ball or bowl the top-spinner, Hales and Buttler kept playing strokes off their back-foot over through the space between long-on and deep mid-wicket. The fact that Axar was quicker through the air also helped the English batters.

Ashwin, for his part, did turn the ball and bowl top spinners, too, but Hales used the sweep shot with the turn to a significant effect against him. Thus, Hales made use of the smaller square boundaries at the Adelaide Oval and did not risk much, as he was playing with the turn.

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In hindsight, one wonders if Yuzvendra Chahal deserved to play a few matches in this tournament for India. With leggies like Rashid, Shadab Khan, Adam Zampa, and Wanindu Hasaranga doing well in the tournament, one has to feel for Chahal, who could have been given a chance in place of Axar, who took only three wickets and made nine runs in the whole tournament. Chahal has the knack of picking up wickets, and India probably should have used his guile and variety instead of Axar’s accurate yet one-dimensional bowling.

However, as valid as the above points might have been, we should definitely take no credit away from the English openers, who enthralled the spectators with their explosive batting.

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