T20 World Cup: India’s road to title clash filled with clinical wins and air of invincibility

Bridgetown (Barbados): After the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup semifinal exit, India chose to give some of their senior players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma a break from playing in the format as the 2023 World Test Championship final and ODI World Cup came in the way. For India, it was another way of creating the path of reclaiming that glory they achieved in the inaugural edition in 2007 but missed out on in the subsequent editions since then. They came the closest to winning the trophy in 2014 but lost to Sri Lanka in the final. But this year, when the senior players like Rohit and Virat came back, there was uncertainty over them being able to come to grips with the ever-evolving world of the shortest format. Cut to now, and India are in the title clash through an unbeaten run in the current tournament and will be up against South Africa in the final at Barbados on Saturday. It’s the third time India are in a Men’s T20 World Cup final, a landmark that only Sri Lanka, Pakistan and England have reached so far. IANS takes a look at India’s run to the 2024 Men’s T20 World Cup final, which could potentially end their 11-year-old global trophy drought. Group A Beat Ireland by eight wickets at New York On a tepid pitch at the pop-up Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, India got the perfect start to their T20 World Cup campaign. The fast bowlers, led by vice-captain Hardik Pandya’s 3-27, dominated thoroughly by picking eight wickets collectively to bowl out Ireland for just 96 in 16 overs. In the chase, captain Rohit Sharma top-scored with 52 while Rishabh Pant remained unbeaten on 36 in his international cricket comeback game to get a comfortable eight-wicket win for India. Beat Pakistan by six runs at New York After rain delayed the start of the highly-anticipated clash, India lost Rohit and Virat Kohli in quick succession on a pitch where the ball stopped occasionally. Pant top-scored with 42 off 31 balls, in what was him having a very charmed life at the crease. But India also had a meltdown at the end, losing their last seven wickets for just 30 runs, as they made 119. But fast-bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah’s heroic spell of 3-14, including bowling 15 dot balls, and taking out Mohammad Rizwan paved the way for India to restrict Pakistan six runs short of 119 and successfully defend their lowest total ever in T20Is in a remarkable low-scoring heist. Beat USA by seven wickets at New York Left-arm fast-bowler Arshdeep Singh picked up career-best figures of 4-9, as India restricted co-hosts USA to 110/8. In the chase, India lost Rohit, Virat and Pant in quick succession, before Suryakumar Yadav (50 not out off 49 balls) and Shivam Dube (31 not out off 35 balls) put on an unbroken 67-run stand off 65 deliveries for the fourth wicket to help India get over the line with 10 deliveries to spare. The match against Canada was abandoned due to rain in Florida Super Eight stage Beat Afghanistan by 47 runs at Barbados At the Kensington Oval, with the pitch being damp and slow, Suryakumar proved to be the difference between the two teams through his knock of 53 off 28 balls, hitting five fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 189. His 60-run stand with Hardik Pandya (32) and a late cameo of 12 from Axar Patel helped India post a strong total of 181/8. In reply, Bumrah again shined with a stunning spell of 3-7, while Arshdeep took 3-36 as India bowled out Afghanistan for just 134. Beat Bangladesh by 50 runs at Antigua On a fresh pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Pandya smashed an unbeaten 27-ball fifty, hitting four fours and three sixes. Kohli, Pant and Dube chipped in with 30s each in propelling India to a commanding 196/5. In reply, left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav shined with a game-changing spell of 3-19, while Bumrah and Arshdeep picked two wickets each as India restricted Bangladesh to 146/8. Beat Australia by 24 runs at St Lucia At the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Rohit unleashed carnage on Australia’s bowlers by smacking a stupendous 92 off 41 balls. He smacked Mitchell Starc for 29 runs and brought up his fifty in just 19 balls, as India posted a mammoth 205/5. In reply, despite Travis Head going strong with his 43-ball 76, Kuldeep applied brakes on Australia’s run with 2-24, including dismissing Glenn Maxwell, followed by Arshdeep picking 3-37 as Australia were restricted to 181/7. Semifinal: beat England by 68 runs at Guyana On a tricky pitch at the Providence Stadium, Rohit top-scored with a 39-ball 57, while Kuldeep and Axar Patel picked three wickets each to outclass defending champions England. Rohit adjusted well to mix risk-taking, and caution with aggression smashing six fours and two sixes in his vital knock, while sharing a 73-run stand with Suryakumar, who hit 47 off 36 balls. Handy runs from Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar at the fag end helped India post a competitive 171/7. In reply, brilliant spells from Axar and Kuldeep, along with two wickets from Jasprit Bumrah, helped India bowl out England for 103 and storm into the final.

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