Alex Hales’ road to redemption had the perfect penultimate chapter as he fired amazing England into the T20 World Cup final with an emphatic ten-wicket victory over India at the Adelaide Oval.
Blistering Hales smashed a magnificent 47-ball 86 as he and captain Buttler, who hit 80 from 49 balls himself, made light work of their 169-run target — incredibly chasing it down in just 16 overs without losing a wicket.
India did well to recover from a slow start to reach 168/6 thanks to Hardik Pandya’s 33-ball 63.
But brutal Hales and Buttler wasted little time in romping to one of England’s greatest white-balls wins to set up a mouthwatering final against Pakistan at the MCG on Sunday.
Hales was a shock late inclusion into the squad after Jonny Bairstow’s freak leg injury ruled him out.
The destructive opening batter had been outcast since being dropped from the 2019 World Cup squad after failing a drugs test.
He didn’t feature again under Eoin Morgan’s leadership due to a breakdown in trust between him and the team.
But his mature knock has given England the chance to make up for the heartbreak of losing in last year’s semi-final to New Zealand and land a memorable white-ball double.
England are the reigning 50-over world champions and are gunning to land a first T20 global gong since 2012.
Hales has stepped up when England needed him most. Their title hopes were hanging by a thread after the shock defeat to Ireland and the wash out against Australia. But he has smashed 175 runs in the last three games to help his country reach the final.
It’s a redemption story for England themselves at the ground which was the scene of their lowest white-ball moment as they crashed out of the 2015 World Cup in the group stage after losing to Bangladesh.
Buttler, who fittingly finished the match with a six, beamed: “It certainly feels as close to a perfect match against a top quality opposition as well.
“We want to play on occasions like this. I think everyone stepped up. To put in our best performance at this occasion is special.
“We always want to start as fast as we can and be really aggressive. Alex was so tough to bowl at there, we compliment each other nicely with different styles. He was a brilliant partner today.
“It’s a brilliant performance and we have to enjoy it.”
Hales said: “I never thought I’d play in a World Cup again so it’s a special feeling. It’s one of the best nights of my career.
“This is right up there. It’s a big occasion against India in the semi-final of a World Cup so it’s really special.”
Mark Wood and Dawid Malan were both ruled out with injury, with lightning fast Wood a huge loss due to his ability to bowl 96 MPH.
There was a stark contrast between the two innings, as India were circumspect early on whilst England went all guns blazing from ball one.
But England got off to a great start with the ball as Chris Woakes got one to rise to remove KL Rahul early on.
India’s hesitancy cost them in the end. They scored just 38 runs from their powerplay.
The big moment came when Adil Rashid, who bowled another tight spell of 1/20, removed dangerman Suryakumar Yadav for just 14.
India recovered from scoring just 80 runs from their first 13 overs as they smashed 88 from the final seven.
Virat Kohli, the highest runscorer at the tournament, anchored the innings with his 40-ball half 50, before Hardik Pandya’s onslaught propelled India to 168/6 with his brutal 63 off just 33 balls.
But England ran away with the game at a canter.
Captain Buttler hit three fours in the first over as Matt Mott’s side got off to an absolute flier.
Hard-hitting Hales accelerated and never looked back. He reached 50 from just 28 balls to silence the army of Indian supporters in the crowd.
Blow after blow followed as he racked up seven maximums in his blistering knock.
Shell-shocked Rohit Sharma said: “It hurts. It’s very disappointing how we turned up today. I felt we batted well at the backend to get that score, but we weren’t good enough with the ball.
“You have to give credit to the openers. They batted really well.”
Match Scorecard: (England win by ten wickets with 24 balls to spare)
India: 168/6 (20): Pandya 63 (33), Kohli 50 (40); Jordan 3/43
England: 170/0 (16): Hales 86* (47), Buttler 80* (49)
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change