ALEX HALES and Jos Buttler embarked on an incredible six-hitting spree as England rampaged into the World Cup final with ludicrous ease.
For Hales, it was the ultimate personal vindication of his return to international cricket after more than three years in the cold.
Hales cleared the boundary seven times and Buttler hit three sixes.
They rushed to their target without being parted as England crushed India by ten wickets in the semi-final with four overs to spare.
Buttler finished the job with the tenth six of the innings and England will play Pakistan in the final in Melbourne on Sunday.
Player of the Match Hales said: “This is right up there. This is a huge occasion and I’m really happy with the way I played. Really special.
“This is one of the best grounds for batting in the world, giving good value for your shots with the short square boundaries.
“I never thought I’d play in a World Cup so to get a chance is very special. It’s one of the best nights of my career.”
This wasn’t just a victory – it was a total demolition job against the pre-match favourites and one of the most talented and dangerous Twenty20 teams in the world.
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The glorious Adelaide Oval ground descended into shocked near-silence with the hordes of Indian fans scarcely able to believe their eyes.
After being asked to bat, India left their acceleration too late but still managed to post 168-6.
From the moment Buttler caressed three fours in the opening over of the run chase, India’s total looked hopelessly inadequate.
Buttler was very good but it was Hales’ ability to hoist sixes that put England on their way to the highest opening stand of the tournament.
They reached 63-0 in the six-over powerplay, following 70-0 against Sri Lanka and 48-0 against New Zealand in their previous two matches.
Hales was recalled following Jason Roy’s loss of form and the freak broken leg injury Jonny Bairstow sustained while playing golf.
The Notts batsman had been overlooked since returning a second positive drugs test in 2019 and missed England’s 50-over World Cup triumph that year.
But, with Buttler taking over from Eoin Morgan as captain, Hales was finally forgiven.
And, wow, after taking a few matches in Pakistan to find his most fluent form, he has exploded in recent days.
He has scores of 52, 47 and now 86 not out in his last three innings.
The stand with Buttler is England’s highest in T20 cricket – beating the 143 put on by Hales himself and Michael Lumb.
India’s innings did not get going properly as England spinners Adil Rashid and Liam Livingstone conceded just 41 runs combined in seven overs.
Eventually, all-rounder Hardik Pandya provided some impetus after scoring just four runs from his first nine balls and 24 from his first 21.
He finished with 63 from 33 deliveries, succumbing to the last ball of the innings, which he actually hit for four but trod on his stumps and was out hit-wicket.
India might have thought runs on the board would be decisive but Hales and Buttler destroyed such ideas.
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