Hales and Buttler smash England into final – latest reaction

Only twice before have the two most populous cricket-playing nations on the planet, India and Pakistan, met in the final of a global tournament: the inaugural World T20 (as it was then called) in South Africa 15 years ago, won by India, and the 2017 Champions Trophy final at the Oval 10 years later, won by Pakistan. England stand in the way of South Asia’s dream final but go into today’s semi-final with major worries over the fitness of Dawid Malan, who injured his groin during the victory over Sri Lanka, and Mark Wood, who has been rated a 50-50 shot after complaining of stiffness in the hip.

Without wishing to demean Dawid Malan, Wood would be the greater loss. HIs slippery pace and ability to bowl yorkers on a ground that lives up to its name with short square boundaries would give them the best chance of countering India’s irrepressible Suryakumar Yadav, who has made 225 runs in five matches so far at a barely believable strike rate of 193.96. Virat Kohli’s renaissance (246 runs, average 123, s/r 138.98) will be a formidable obstacle to England but they have managed to tame him many times in the past, even at his imperious best.

Indeed Adil Rashid and both of Wood’s possible replacements, Chris Jordan and David Willey, have bagged his wicket twice apiece. But Sky Yadav, in five innings against England, has made 57, 32, 39, 15 and 117, hitting 13 sixes, 29 fours and has a strike rate of 195.98. Any one of India’s top five could take the game away from England. Losing Wood would likely help them because, no matter how superb they are, no one likes 96mph bouncers up their hooters.

England were very good against New Zealand and bowled very well against Sri Lanka before their top-order wobbles. England bat very deep and all bar Harry Brook have contributed something in their four matches but will need to be at their very best to get after Mohammed Shami and Bhuvi Kumar who have stepped up yet again in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, especially the former who took three for 38 on his sole appearance against them. And also, of course, beware Ravi Ashwin with ball in hand, both the striker and no-striker

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