HomeWorld NewsButtler dreams big for England ahead of T20 World Cup final

Buttler dreams big for England ahead of T20 World Cup final

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — England cricket captain Jos Buttler is about to make a childhood dream come true and is accepting all the expectations surrounding Sunday’s Twenty20 World Cup final against Pakistan.

A record holder in short-form cricket, the first-year captain hopes England can add the T20 world championship in Melbourne to their 2019 success in the over-50 format in London.

Buttler, 32, who holds England records for runs scored and dismissals in the game of over 20, is confident the nation can capture a rare World Cup double at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“It really relates to where…as a kid, this is the kind of thing you would be doing in the garden with your brother and sister, pretending to lift a trophy, that kind of thing,” he said. “And now to be able to have the chance to have the chance to live that kind of (dream) is incredibly special.”

Pakistan and England finished their preparations for the championship match of the four-week-long tournament differently on Saturday.

After appearing alongside their opponents in a fan zone on the grounds adjoining the MCG, England returned to the pitch for a final training session.

Pakistan, which advanced to the decider with a thrilling win over New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, opted for a rest day after training on Friday.

The two nations have not met at the World Cup before, although England did beat Pakistan in a warm-up game and also claimed a recent seven-game series in Pakistan 4-3.

It’s been 30 years since Pakistan’s “cornered tigers” defeated England at the MCG to win the country’s first World Cup in the over-50 format.

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam, 28, was not alive for the famous triumph. But the leadoff batsman is aware of the importance of that success in Pakistan and is determined to create his own captaincy legacy.

“Of course, there are similarities,” he said. “But we will try to win as it is an honor for me to lead this team, especially on this great pitch.”

Resilience throughout this tournament and also from an individual perspective has been a theme for both nations throughout the World Cup.

A shock defeat to Ireland in a rain-affected match at the MCG put England, who defeated India in a semi-final in Adelaide on Thursday, under pressure to qualify for the semi-finals.

A washout against Australia in Melbourne added to the uncertainty and England only qualified for the semi-finals when they beat Sri Lanka last Saturday with just two balls to spare.

Few players at this event better exemplify the importance of resilience than Alex Hales, who partnered Buttler in an unbeaten opening partnership of 170 to win India’s tally of 168 for six with ease at Adelaide Oval.

As usher to the England captain at his wedding in 2017, Hales was banished from his national duties and missed out on the 2019 World Cup triumph after testing positive for illicit drugs.

He only earned one withdrawal for this tournament as a late replacement for Jonny Bairstow, but he vindicated the decision by making 211 runs at an average of 52.75.

England’s road to the final was serene compared to the stress Pakistan faced after terrible defeats to India at the MCG and Zimbabwe in Perth to start the tournament.

From an unlikely position, Azam’s side have since displayed the stirring spirit of 1992 with back-to-back wins over the Netherlands, South Africa, Bangladesh and New Zealand to reach the final.

“We had our first two games as losses, which cost us, but I am proud of the way the team has come back in the last four games,” Azam said.

The La Niña weather pattern that prevails on the east coast of Australia during the southern hemisphere spring has proven problematic at the World Cup and poses a significant threat on Sunday.

Eight to 20 millimeters (nearly three-quarters of an inch) are forecast for Sunday and heavy rain is also forecast for Reserve Day on Monday. World Cup honors will be shared if the required number of overs needed to decide a result cannot be played.

After coming up short against Ireland in a rain-shortened group game, Buttler said England received a timely reminder on how to prepare for potential disruptions.

“I think any experience that you can take advantage of, good or bad, you will have learned from them and you will reflect on those… adversity situations or a little bit of chaos,” he said. “The more experience you have of being able to understand those feelings and how to react to them, I definitely see that as a benefit.”

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More AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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