Recalled star rockets England to T20 WC final

Alex Hales has vindicated England’s decision to recall him from three years in the wilderness, with a match-winning knock powering his side to the T20 World Cup final.

Set a tricky total of 169 to win by India after a brilliant 33-ball 63 from Hardik Pandya, Hales and England captain Jos Buttler put together a record unbeaten partnership of 170 to run out 10-wicket winners at the Adelaide Oval, setting up a showdown against Pakistan in Sunday’s final.

Hales (86 off 47), who was named the Player of the Match, and Buttler (80 off 49) needed just 16 overs to reach the target, with the England skipper smacking Mohammed Shami into the stands to bring up the win in style.

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The innings continued a stunning redemption story for Hales, who had been iced out of England’s white-ball set-up following a failed drug test in the lead-up to the 50-over World Cup in 2019.

He was initially overlooked for the World Cup before being named as a late inclusion after Jonny Bairstow suffered a freak injury in the lead-up to the tournament.

“I never thought I’d play in a World Cup again,” Hales said after the match.

“To get the chance is a very special feeling in a country that I love and that I’ve spent a lot of time in. Tonight’s one of the best nights of my career.”

Hales has excelled at the World Cup since coming in as a late replacement for Bairstow, with tonight’s unbeaten 86 following scores of 52 and 47 against New Zealand and Sri Lanka in two must-win group stage matches.

“Hales’ form is a vindication on two counts for England,” said former England skipper Michael Atherton in commentary during the opener’s knock against India.

“One, his initial selection after Jonny Bairstow was injured, suffering a freak injury on the golf course.

“Secondly, for keeping the opening partnership tonight because by bringing (Phil) Salt in, who is a natural opener, that could’ve been a possibility for England to put Salt up the top and drop one of Buttler or Hales.”

After the 2019 suspension caused him to miss out on England’s victorious World Cup campaign, Hales is now incredibly one win away from playing a major part in bringing his country another World Cup.

Hales ugly waste to every single one of India’s bowlers, finishing with four fours and nine sixes. It was his highest international score since hitting 147 against Australia in an ODI fixture in June 2018.

No Indian bowler was spared in Hales and Buttler’s frightening onslaught, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin and Pandya all went for more than 10 runs an over.

It was a desperately disappointing outcome for India, who had harbored hopes of a dream final against arch-rivals Pakistan, emulating the epic scenes seen at the World Cup opener at the MCG last month.

The final between England and Pakistan in Melbourne will rekindle memories of the 50-over World Cup final in 1992, when Imran Khan’s side secured an historic win at the same venue against the same opponent.

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