Axar Patel (left), who was adjudged the player of the match, celebrates his wicket with Suryakumar Yadav (right) and skipper Rohit Sharma during the semi-finals against England. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Indian spinners Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav spun a web around England batters on a difficult pitch to cruise to a 68-run win in the second semi-final and book a meeting with first-time finalists South Africa in the final on Saturday (6.30pm UAE).

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

The defending champions were facing an uphill task, chasing a target of 172 on a pitch that was deteriorating with every ball bowled and suited India more than England. After being down for 49 for five, it was again left to Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone to rebuild the innings, just the way they did in a losing cause against South Africa in their Super Eight clash.

But that was too much of an ask against an attack that has been mowing down their opposition with ruthless precision. Plenty was expected from the contest between two heavyweights in world cricket, petered into a one-sided contest, similar to their previous meeting at Adelaide when England romped to a 10-wicket triumph.

Read more

In the first semi-final, the Proteas blew away the surprise semi-finalists Afghanistan by nine wickets. Both India and South Africa have made it to the final with an unbeaten record.

England skipper Jos Buttler, who returned to form with a blistering knock against the USA in their final Super Eight match, continued from where he left off and started to take the fight to the opposition, but he took far too many chances too early and succumbed to a reverse sweep off the first ball bowled by left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

Buttler’s early wicket gave the opening that the Indian bowlers were eagerly waiting for and then they started to tighten their hold on the contest. It was a bad toss to win as the England skipper, aiming to make the most of the moisture in the pitch, put India in to bat and in the process handed the contest on a platter to the world No 1 Twenty20 team.

spo_240627 india-1719518808446
Rohit Sharma hits a six during his second successive half-century in the Twenty20 World Cup. Image Credit: AFP

Rohit Sharma stands tall

Skipper Rohit Sharma continued his impressive run of form, notching up his second consecutive half-century. While the opener took the Australian attack by the scruff of the neck, he was much more sober on a rain-affected pitch that was slow and had low bounce.

Coming from St Lucia, where the pitch had a better bounce and pace, the Indian batters found it difficult to adjust to the conditions. And the frequent rain breaks didn’t help the cause either.

He had a good partner in Suryakumar Yadav and the duo took the score past the 100-run mark with the world No 1 batter missing a well-deserved half-century by three runs. Cameos from Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja ensured that the Men in Blue went past the par score of 168 in Guyana.

spo_240627 india2-1719518804918
England all-rounder Chris Jordan celebrates one of his three wickets with skipper Jos Buttler. Image Credit: AFP

Part-time England spinner Liam Livingstone and leg-spinner Adil Rashid consistently put the breaks on the Indian batting, but it was the medium-pacer Chris Jordan who did the maximum damage with three wickets.

“Just to try and keep things simple. Use the pitch and bowl into the wicket. Buttler brought me on to get wickets, but it came out alright,” Livingstone said during the mid-innings break. ”There’s low bounce, but that’s always the case here. Hope we can adjust to that. We’ve got a lot of firepower, fingers crossed we’ll get through.”

Virat Kohli's another failure

Indian batter Virat Kohli’s another failure has made the noise grow louder on the talisman’s role in the team. His efforts so far is a far cry from what he had done for India in the last two years. Sadly, moving up to the opener’s role, Kohli is not looking settled. While trying to make the most of the powerplay overs, he has been losing his game.

Rishabh Pant, after the initial flourish, is not able to live up to the expectations and the experiment by the Indian team management is not helping the team’s cause. And Shivam Dube’s inclusion is certainly a big question that has no answers, especially in a big tournament like the World Cup.

Twenty20 is all about the start, be it batting or bowling. India must be the only team in this entire tournament that didn’t have good opening partnership, still the depth in batting has enabled India to score competitive totals and chase down tricky targets.

Time for the Indian management to go back to the drawing board and alter their ailing top order in their bid to clinch the second Twenty20 World Cup title.