Alex Hales (86* off 47) and Jos Buttler (80* off 49) put on a T20 batting masterclass – and a World Cup record highest partnership of 170 – to decimate India by 10 wickets and set up a final date with Pakistan. Put in to bat first on a friendly Adelaide surface, Hardik Pandya’s counterattacking 63 at death and Kohli’s assured 50 made up for a poor start with the bat but only just about got India to a par score of 168/6. The English opening pair, however, made it look pedestrian with their aggressive knocks and overhauled the target with four overs to spare in a statement win ahead of the title clash.
KL Rahul’s heroics were limited to just the first-ball four to kick off the semifinal. He was undone by the extra bounce and offered a regulation catch to Buttler off Chris Woakes in the second over. Kohli then joined hands with Rohit Sharma to take India to a respectable 38/1 from their powerplay. Despite the beating he took from Rohit a little while later, Sam Curran did test Kohli a fair bit – beating his outside edge and even got him edging the next one that fell just short in slips. However, Kohli got going with a sublime lofted drive over extra cover ropes and Rohit made up for the dots he’d chewed up earlier with back to back fours off Curran. While Kohli went to register his fourth fifty this World Cup, Rohit’s scratchy stay in the middle came to an end after a run-a-ball 27, after him having survived a second caught-and-bowled chance.
Suryakumar did look at his usual 360-degree best for as long as he lasted in the middle – a top-edge of an attempted swivel pull sailing comfortably over fine-leg ropes and the lofted four over the cover fielder’s head on the very next delivery, off Stokes. But Adil Rashid stunned the sea of blue at the Adelaide Oval into silence when he had the No. 1 T20I batter stepping out and misting the short one from the leggie to sweeper cover after making just 14. India had slipped to 77/3 at the end of 12.
They get to 168 with the Hardik Pandya blitz. He had support from Kohli, who chipped in a 40-ball 50 himself, but Pandya stepped up just when the team needed it the most from him to take India to the par score. He was slow to start, but kept the assault going on either side of Kohli’s fourth half-century this World Cup. India scored 58 in the last four overs, of which Pandya alone made 50. He took Curran and Jordan to the cleaners at death, hitting five sixes and three fours. When Jordan dropped it short, he was pulled to deep midwicket, and when he missed his yorker, Pandya brought out the helicopter to whip it to deep square, kicking off the 18th over with back to back sixes. The moment he tried a short one, Curran was similarly pulled to the deep midwicket stands in a massive 20-run penultimate over as Pandya reached a 29-ball fifty. Between Rishabh Pant’s run-out and his own hit-wicket off the final ball of the innings, Pandya even cleared the longest boundary of the ground with a 84m strike into the long-on stands.
England were at their best in the powerplay. Buttler got the chase underway courtesy with three boundaries in the opening over. Every time, Bhuvneshwar Kumar either over-pitched or offered width, he was punished. Hales joined the act in the pacer’s next when he shimmied down the track and carved a length ball over the cover boundary. India were forced into bowling changes, but Mohammed Shami and Axar Patel were both welcomed into the attack with a six and a four each with Hales doing the bulk of damage. England had already raced away to 63/0 at the end of the powerplay, and set a solid platform for the chase.
The English opening pair did not relent even after the fielding restrictions were off, and it didn’t take long for the cluelessness to reflect in India’s body language. There was not a ball where either Buttler or Hales looked troubled as they kept mounting the boundaries almost at will. Hales sent a short one each from Axar and Pandya sailing into the crowd at deep midwicket on either side of the drinks break, raising his 28-ball fifty with the first and the century partnership with his captain off the second. Buttler took 36 balls to his half-century, but got there with a four and six off successive deliveries in Pandya’s third over before taking Shami to the cleaners in the 14-run 14th over. The first boundary-less over in England’s chase was the ninth, and the only other was 15th when the equation was already down to 13 needed off 30.
China censors ‘Tiananmen’ image of Asian Games athletes hugging
A photo of two Chinese female athletes that made an inadvertent reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre has been censored on Chinese social media.
The race numbers for Lin Yuwei and Wu Yanni form ’64’ – a common allusion to the incident which happened on June 4.
Discussions of the incident remain taboo in China, with authorities routinely scrubbing any mention of the topic from the internet.
In 1989, troops shot dead hundreds of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. It remains unclear how many people actually died that day, but human rights groups’ estimates range from several hundred to several thousand killed.
The athletes had embraced each other after a 100m hurdles race at the Asian Games in which Ms Lin won gold. She was wearing her lane number 6 next to Ms Wu’s lane number 4 in the photo.
Users had posted on Weibo, one of China’s biggest social media platforms, congratulating Ms Lin. However, posts which included the photo were replaced with grey squares. However, the photo does not appear to have been completely scrubbed off the internet, with some Chinese news articles still showing a photo of the two athletes.
China has won nearly 300 medals so far in the Asian Games, which are currently taking place in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. It is due to go on until 8 October.
All-round Afif helps Bangladesh survive Malaysia scare
Afif Hossain put on an all-round show as Bangladesh beat Malaysia by two runs to confirm their semi-final fixture against India at the Asian Games. Malaysia needed five in the last over with Virandeep Singh batting on 52 off 35, but Afif gave away just two runs to keep the upset at bay.
Afif varied the pace in each of the first three balls of the final over to frustrate Virandeep before lobbing one up outside his hitting arc. Virandeep tried to break the shackles but holed out to long-on with Malaysia still needing five. Afif then nailed two yorkers to give away just two runs and end the contest.
Chasing 117, Malaysia were reduced to 18 for 3, with Afif striking twice in the fifth over. Virandeep then stitched two key partnerships, adding 34 for the fifth wicket with Vijay Unni and then 40 for the seventh with wicketkeeper-batter Ainool Hafizs, to take his side close. But Malaysia faltered in the last over.
Earlier in the day, Afif found himself in the middle with Bangladesh three down inside three overs. He struck a 14-ball 23 with two fours and two sixes and added 38 in just four overs with captain Saif Hassan. Hassan struck a steady half-century – 50 off 52 balls – on a surface that slowed down considerably after the earlier game, between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, in the day.
Pravandeep Singh, Virandeep’s elder brother, finished with two wickets for Malaysia but Bangladesh managed to get to 116, which eventually proved to be just enough.
Bangladesh 116 for 5 in 20 overs (Saif Hassan 50*, Afif Hossain 23, Shahadat Hossain 21; Pavandeep Singh 2-12) beat Malaysia 114 for 8 in 20 overs (Virandeep Singh 52, Syed Aziz 20; Afif Hossain 3-11, Ripon Mondol 3-14) by two runs
Naib, Qais knock Sri Lanka out to take Afghanistan into semi-final
Afghanistan knocked an inexperienced Sri Lanka side out of the Asian Games to book a spot in the semi-final in Hangzhou. On a slow-turner, Noor Ali Zadran struck a steady fifty before three-fors from Oais Ahmad and Gulbadin Naib dealt the final blow to Sri Lanka, who had nine debutants.
After opting to field, Sri Lanka struck with the seventh ball of the match when Nuwan Thushara cleaned up Sediqullah Atal. Noor and Mohammad Shahzad then added 54 for the second wicket but both batters struggled against left-arm spinner Nimesh Vimukthi and took their time in the middle.
After Shahzad fell to seamer Lahiru Samarakoon, Shahidullah struck some lusty blows during his 14-ball 23. But then a collapse ensued that saw Afghanistan slide from 92 for 2 to be bowled out for 116. Thushara, with his slingy action and accurate yorkers, finished with 4 for 17.
In reply, Sri Lanka raced off the blocks, with Lasith Croospulle hitting Naib for a four and a six in an 11-run second over. Even though he fell in the next over, Sri Lanka reached 59 for 3 by the end of the ninth over.
That’s when Qais came into the attack and turned the game around with a two-wicket over. Ashen Bandara fell to a googly and played on while attempting a drive. Three balls later, wicketkeeper-batter Lahiru Udara was lured into playing a heave across the line to be bowled.
Captain Sahan Arachchige showed some resistance with his 22 off 29, and later, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth kept the slim hopes alive when 15 were needed from 12 ball and then nine in the final over. But Karim Janat knocked Thushara over with the first ball of the 20th over to kick-start celebrations in the Afghan camp.
Afghanistan 116 in 18.3 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 20, Noor Ali Zadran 51, Shahidullah 23; Nuwan Thushara 4-17, Sahan Arachchige 2-26) beat Sri Lanka 108 in 19.1 overs (Sahan Arachchige 22, Qais Ahmad 3-16, Gulbadin Naib 3-28) by eight runs
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