England’s Visually Impaired cricketers have booked their place in the T20 Blind World Cup semi-finals after beating the West Indies by six wickets in Bangalore.
After a tricky start to the tournament, in which they lost three of their first four games – against India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – England have now won five in a row to finish fourth in the table, meaning they will face Pakistan in the last-four.
England didn’t have it all their own way as West Indies racked up 232 for 4 from their 20 overs. Dennal Deboya Shim smashed his way to 106 from 61 balls with an impressive 15 boundaries.
Ed Hossell led the reply with 64, sharing stands of 56 with Matt Dean and 48 with Peter Blueitt, the man of the match, who continued his incredible run of form with an unbeaten 74 to see the side home with five balls to spare.
Justin Hollingsworth provided able support with a quick-fire 47 in a stand of 79 that broke the back of the run chase.
“It feels fantastic,” said England’s captain, Luke Sugg. “We knew what we needed to do today. The boys are in a good mood and are ready for the semi-final on Saturday.
“We knew they [West Indies] would be a strong side with the bat. They’ve scored a lot of runs in the tournament and they showed that again today. It was great preparation for the semi to be pushed like that. Pakistan won’t be easy but we know now that we can chase big scores.
“We’ve talked about how we can adapt to their strengths and really take the game to Pakistan. We can’t wait.”
England are an outside bet to reach the final given the strength of Pakistan’s team – they won their opening encounter of the tournament by 95 runs. However, England’s coach, Ross Hunter, is happy that his side have fulfilled their expectations so far.
“I’m really pleased that we are in the knockouts,” said Hunter. “It’s where we wanted to be at the start of the tournament.
“We’ve had a culture shift in trying to play a different brand of cricket. We have a nice mix of batters and the recipe is there to score 270-300 – we just have to put it into practice now.
“Pakistan will be a huge challenge but we’ve learnt a lot this week and if we play well we will give ourselves an opportunity.
“Tomorrow is all about how we prepare our players to be ready to compete on the big stage. The semi-final will be a day they will remember for the rest of their lives.” (ESPNCricinfo)