With England chasing 169 for the right to play Pakistan in Melbourne, Hales scored 86 off just 47 balls and fellow opener Jos Buttler 80 off 49 as the pair shared the highest partnership in T20 World Cup history to cruise to victory with 24 balls to spare.
Hales was dropped by England on the eve of the 2019 World Cup after failing a recreational drugs test but was recalled for this tournament after Jonny Bairstow’s injury and Jason Roy’s dramatic loss of form left England searching for a new opening partner for Buttler.
"This would be right up there for me as my perfect innings,” Hales said. "India in the semi-final, big occasion, I'm so happy with how I played, it's special.
"This is one of the best grounds to bat at in the world, it's such a good surface and you get such good value for your shots with the shorter square boundaries. It's a ground I really enjoy playing at.
"I never thought I'd play in a World Cup again so this is so special, and to do it in a country where I love playing. It's one of the best nights of my career.”
Indian captain Rohit Sharma bemoaned his side’s inability to handle the pressure of the occasion, with the country's long wait for a World Cup win set to stretch at least until next year's 50-over equivalent on home soil.
Despite being blessed with a wealth of talent and the world’s most lucrative franchise league in the IPL, India have not won the T20 World Cup since claiming the inaugural edition back in 2007 and last won the 50-over version back in 2011.
"It was definitely not a wicket where a team should be able to come and chase that total in 16-17 overs, but things like that can happen,” Rohit said. “We just didn't turn up with the ball. When it comes to knockout stages it's all about handling the pressure, and it comes down to individuals too.
"You cannot teach how to handle that pressure. But all these guys have played enough cricket to understand that, when they play in the IPL and games like that it's also really high pressure. You've got to hold your nerve and stay calm but the way we started with the ball wasn't good and that shows that we were nervy to start.”