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England's professional approach scores over flamboyance, superstardom

The planned way in which England dismantled Pakistan’s potent pace attack on Sunday night at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the final was reminiscent of a similar type of attitude that Jos Buttler and his victorious team adopted against the star-studded Indian batting line-up in the semifinal clash at the Adelaide Oval on November 10.

The no-frills outlook and attention to details worked wonders for England as they restricted Pakistan to a total below 140 in the summit clash.

And when they chased the target, England’s batsmen were put under severe pressure by the top-class Pakistan bowling attack but came out with glory, led by the cool and calm demeanour of Ben Stokes, who stroked his way to 52 not out in 49 balls.

Stokes was the bowler who suffered at the hands of the big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite in the 2016 T20 World Cup final at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata when he was smashed for four successive sixes in the final over by the West Indian batsman who turned the match around in those four balls when 19 were needed for a win.

England’s victory march turned into defeat all of a sudden with that ferocious assault by Brathwaite on Stokes. It was little wonder when Buttler was asked about it in the post-final media presser after Stokes had led England to a five-wicket win without the need to play out a 20th and final over.

"Yeah, it’s an amazing story really, isn’t it? Yeah, he’s been on an amazing journey. I think all these big moments, like I’ll always remember his words to Jofra (Archer) about how things don’t define you, and I think he’s obviously never let that 2016 final sort of push him back, and you think of the things he’s gone on to achieve in his career since then is just amazing," Buttler said.

His retort was to the question, "How pleased are you for him on a personal level given what happened in 2016."

Stokes had stood tall in the 2019 ICC World Cup final at the Lord’s against New Zealand with a brilliant 84 not out that helped England finally triumph on a controversial count-back of boundary hits after a tie on scores and in the super over contest.

"He always stands up in the biggest moments. He’s a man who can take a lot of pressure on his shoulders and perform, and, absolutely with him in the middle you know you’ve got a good chance. Yeah, just so proud of him, pleased for him that he’s stood up and done it again," Buttler said in praise of Stokes.

"He’s a true match winner, and he’s been there in those scenarios time and time again. He just has a lot of know-how for how to do that. I think it certainly wasn’t his most fluent innings or probably didn’t time the ball as well as he can, but you knew he was never going to go down without a fight and stand up and be there at the end," the England skipper added.

England’s contrast in approach with the Indian performance was stark.

While England, who were surprised by Ireland in the league phase, did not rely solely on individual excellence, Rohit Sharma and his men couldn’t deliver through team work when it mattered most –in the semifinals.

Pakistan too couldn’t come up with a defining magical moment with the ball after Sam Curran, Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan choked their batting line-up.

Among other teams, New Zealand’s approach was similar to that of England but they encountered a charged up Pakistan, lucky to be even in the semis, in the fight for the spot in the final.

Hosts and 2021 champions Australia came up short in maintaining a healthy run rate after the washed out game against England while teams like South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, The Netherlands, Afghanistan and Ireland had their moments to savour in the tournament which was mostly held in cold and chilly weather with rains too affecting some games.

–IANS

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