‘Outplayed’ Buttler wishes he had bowled Moeen on turning Providence pitch

England

Jos Buttler, England’s captain, admitted his team had been comprehensively outplayed in their 68-run defeat to India in the T20 World Cup 2024 semi-final in Guyana, but insisted his decision to bowl first after winning the toss had not been a significant factor in the result.

After handing over first use of a spin-friendly surface that was liable to get slower and lower as the day went by, Buttler conceded that India’s total of 171 for 7 – thanks to 57 from 39 balls from his counterpart Rohit Sharma, ably backed up by Suryakumar Yadav‘s 47 from 36 – was “20-25 runs too many”.

In reply, England were rattled out for 103 in exactly 100 deliveries, with Axar Patel striking the key blow with his first ball of the match, in the fourth over of the powerplay, as Buttler top-edged a reverse-sweep to the keeper to depart for 23 from 15.

Thereafter, Axar struck with the first ball of each of his next two overs to remove Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali on his way to Player-of-the-Match-winning figures of 3 for 23, before Kuldeep Yadav‘s left-arm wristspin ripped through an exposed middle-order to finish with 3 for 19.

“They certainly outplayed us,” Buttler said at the post-match presentation. “I think maybe we let them get 20-25 runs too many. That was a challenging surface that they played well on. But they outplayed us and fully deserved the win.”

Morning rain delayed the start of play by more than an hour, and returned to cause a further lengthy interlude midway through India’s innings, and England opted to stick to the same seam-heavy line-up that had carried them through the Super Eight, with Reece Topley and Chris Jordan both retained ahead of an extra spinner in Tom Hartley, as well as Ben Duckett’s prowess against the turning ball.

In the final analysis, however, it was England’s chosen spinners, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid who proved the most potent weapons, as they conceded a combined total of 49 runs in their eight overs (6.13 rpo), compared to 12 overs for 120 (10 rpo) from the four quicks.

“With everything that’s happened throughout the whole tournament, we’re really proud of everyone’s efforts to be here”

Jos Buttler

Moeen Ali, however, was overlooked, possibly as a consequence of the damp conditions early in India’s innings. Not only did Buttler admit he had erred in ignoring Moeen, he also admitted that the eventual impact of Rashid and Livingstone had caused him to fear what India’s potent spin attack could achieve on the same surface.

“Obviously, they’ve got some fantastic spinners,” Buttler said. “Our two guys bowled well, but in hindsight, I should have brought Moeen [on] in that innings, with the way that the spin was playing.

“Obviously with the rain around in those conditions, I probably didn’t think it was going to change that much,” he added. “And I actually don’t think it really did. I thought they out-bowled us. They had an above-par score. So I don’t think necessarily the toss was the difference between the teams.”

The result was every bit as comprehensive as England’s ten-wicket victory had been at the same stage of the 2022 T20 World Cup in Adelaide, after which Buttler’s men went on to become the first men’s team to hold both 50- and 20-over world titles at the same time.

Both those trophies have now been prised from England’s grasp, and while a semi-final exit is a significantly better defence than the team managed in the 50-over World Cup last year, England still exit the tournament after losing three of their four matches against major opponents.

Their early loss to Australia left them needing favours to progress from the group stage, while their narrow defeat to South Africa in St Lucia condemned them to the tougher semi-final draw, where India were waiting to avenge that Adelaide result with what Rohit pointedly described as a “satisfying” performance.

“Two years on, in different conditions, it’s very different,” Buttler said, when asked to reflect on his team’s changed fortunes. “Credit to India, they played a really good game of cricket and they deserve the win.

“With everything that’s happened throughout the whole tournament, we’re really proud of everyone’s efforts to be here,” he added, recalling their fraught progression from Group 2, when only a late break in the clouds in Antigua had allowed them to take the field in a must-win match against Namibia.

“You can only play who’s put in front of you. We’ve had lots of adversity throughout the competition. We’ve stuck together well as a group, and played some really good cricket in patches but came up short when we needed it most.”

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