T20 World Cup: England hero Hales thought his chance had been and gone

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Alex Hales believed his chances of competing at a World Cup were over, yet is now on the verge of T20 glory with England.

Hales, who was called up in place of the injured Jonny Bairstow for the T20 World Cup, has been superb for England in Australia and, alongside captain Jos Buttler, delivered a remarkable batting display against India on Thursday.

England's openers put on an unbeaten partnership of 170 – a T20 World Cup record – to claim a resounding 10-wicket victory in Thursday's semi-final at the Adelaide Oval.

It tees up a final against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Hales lost his place in the England set-up after testing positive for a recreational drug in 2019, yet the 33-year-old has made the most of his comeback, with his 86 not-out in Adelaide including 11 boundaries, seven of which were sixes.

"It would be right up there, for sure," replied Hales when asked if it was the perfect performance.

"A huge occasion, India in a semi-final of the World Cup – really happy with how I played, as special as it gets.

"This is one of the best venues to bat at in the world, especially in the powerplay, good value for shots, small and square boundaries and a ground I've got good memories at.

"I never thought I'd play in a World Cup again, so to get the chance is a special feeling, in a country I love and where I've spent a lot of time. It's one of the best nights of my career."

Hales became the third England batter, after Buttler and former captain Eoin Morgan, to reach 2,000 runs in the shortest format.

England did not have it all their own way, however, with a late flurry from Hardik Pandya, who plundered 63 from 33 balls, propelling India to a seemingly competitive 168-6 - Virat Kohli (50) had previously become the first batsman to reach 4,000 runs in T20Is.

Yet India never gained any momentum with the ball, and England skipper Buttler, who scored 80 and hit a huge six to round off the win, hailed an outstanding display from his team, who lost to Ireland in their second match of the tournament to leave them with plenty of work to do to get out of Group 1.

"Certainly does feel a long time ago, which is great," Buttler said of the Ireland match. "The character we've shown as a group ever since that moment, coming into a huge game against New Zealand and getting to this point to put in our best performance so far.

"We always wanted to start as fast as we can and be really aggressive – Adil Rashid was down to come in at number 11 today and that's an incredibly long batting line-up, it gives you a lot of freedom when you start out to know you have such depth.

"It's important to enjoy this, it was a brilliant performance. We can reflect on this and enjoy it, and of course we know there's one big task to go."

Of Hales, Buttler said: "He was so tough to bowl at, he used the dimensions of the ground incredibly well.

"We probably complement each other quite nicely, different players, different styles and he's shown fantastic form in the last few matches and he was a brilliant partner."

Chris Jordan played for the first time in the tournament due to Mark Wood's injury, and stepped up with figures of 3-43.

"I think I have to give special praise to Chris, coming into this game having not played and I asked an incredibly tough thing of him to do, to bowl three overs at the death," Buttler added.

"Against a set batsman like Hardik who's one of the best in those situations in the world, he handled it incredibly well."