The English team, led by Jos Buttler were always the favourites to go through to the semi-finals. Their main opponent from group 1 were Australia. But in a shocking manner, Australia lost to New Zealand and all of a sudden it became a group of death. England, even after being upset early on in the tournament, came out of that group of death and then sealed the semis in style against India. Here’s how their road to the final has been.
Beating Afghanistan comfortably
As was expected from it, the English unit started comfortably and beat Afghanistan by five wickets, chasing down 113 with ease. Sam Curran was the star as he picked up his first five-wicket haul of a T20 World Cup.
The shocker against Ireland
After the win against Afghanistan, England were expected to face real challenge only when they faced Australia and thus had a chance to sharpen their skills by playing Ireland at the MCG before the big game. However, that practice turned into a nightmare as the Irish team and rain combined and England failed. The English side were slow to start chasing 158 and as a result reached just 105-5 in 14.3 overs, looking to accelerate at the end. But the end never came as the rain made sure it was all over by 14.3 only and the men in blue and red fell short by five runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Australian hopes dying down
After England were defeated by Ireland, Australian hopes had risen and their clash against England almost became a virtual quarterfinal. However, rains in Melbourne had other ideas and the much-anticipated Australia-England game got washed out.
England fight back
After the washout against Australia, the equation was pretty simple for England. Win all their remaining matches and keep the net run rate up. In this quest they faced New Zealand first. The English batters were up to the task as they made 179 in Gabba after their skipper won the toss and decided to bat first. Jos Buttler and Alex Hales gave an exhilarating start.
While defending, the English bowlers were on the mark too and put early pressure by conceding just 28 and removing Devon Conway and Finn Allen in the first five overs. Kane Williamson and Glenn Phillips fought well, but Sam Curran made sure that the fight didn’t last long and England won the game by 20 runs.
Playing after Australia benefited England against Sri Lanka
Since Afghanistan fought valiantly, Australia were not able to get the kind of victory that it needed in its last game to increase the net run rate and put pressure on England. Because the Australian net run rate was already below England, all that Jos Buttler’s men needed to do was to win against Sri Lanka in their last group match.
They started the process well as they restricted the islanders to only 141-8 at SCG. The wicket was slow and sluggish and it was revealed when the Sri Lankan bowlers choked English batters in middle overs. But even as wickets fell, Ben Stokes kept his calm and saw his team through with two balls remaining.
Thrashed India in the semis
If the first semi-final between Pakistan and New Zealand was one sided, then this one between India and England turned out to be a mockery. The English bowlers started well and didn’t let the Indian openers score freely. Suryakumar Yadav was removed cheaply too and thus the scoring rate couldn’t recover even as Hardik Pandya scored a brilliant 63 off 33 balls. India could score only 168 in the end. It was below par but not a low total.
However, what happened next was just too good to be described in words. Jos Buttler and Alex Hales took turns to score as freely as possible and finished the game off in only 16 overs as England chased the target without losing even a single wicket.