Adil Rashid the street magician still up to his old tricks

THis T20 World Cup marks the seventh time in the past eight global tournaments that England’s men have reached the semi-finals. There was turbulence along the way – not unusual on the inter-island flights in the Caribbean – but together with the two trophies won it is a reminder of how far their white-ball cricket has come in the last nine years.

One of the constants in this period of revival was Adil Rashid, who again played with opponents like a street magician on Sunday. Admittedly, it was the United States that tried – and failed – to read Rashid’s sleight of hand. But regardless of the opponent, those four boundary-less overs of two for 13 were still a master craftsman at work.

Things had started rustily for the Yorkshireman, his performances against Scotland and Australia in Barbados were marked by too many loose deliveries and perhaps showed why it was a mistake to let him play two games in six weeks before leaving Britain. For all his recent white-ball specialism, Rashid still needs overs.

However, since then he has again spun eight wickets in 18 overs at an economy of just over five, with tighter lines and his googly very clear. As a leg-spinner who lets the ball fly, unlike some of the more modern protagonists who drive it into the field, he has also exploited the drift of the crosswind.

Among those in awe is Liam Livingstone, who as a Swiss army knife spinner – long-legged for the right-handers, offy for the left-handers – gets to pick Rashid’s brains, and similarly Moeen Ali’s. Both are closer to the end than the start – Rashid is 36, Moeen now 37 – and Rob Key, the team director, has already indicated that the pair’s knowledge and expertise will need to be retained in some capacity when the day eventually arrives.

Quick guide

South Africa in the last four


South Africa booked their place in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup when they fell three wickets behind against the West Indies. They had been in control for much of the rain-affected match in Antigua before late wickets set up a thrilling finish.

Marco Jansen eventually sent them home with three wickets to spare, forcing the co-hosts out of the tournament.

West Indies suffered two early blows as Shai Hope and Nicolas Pooran fell in the first two overs, but Roston Chase and recalled opener Kyle Mayers started to repair the innings. They added 84 for the third wicket before Mayers fell to Tabraiz Shamsi for 35, quickly followed by the captain, Rovman Powell, and Sherfane Rutherford.

Shamsi, who finished with three for 27, added Chase’s wicket for 52 off 42 balls as West Indies slumped to 97 for six – a pair of sixes from Andre Russell lifting them to 135 for eight.

Russell claimed the wickets of Reeza Hendricks and Quentin de Kock in the second over before rain intervened, giving South Africa a reduced target of 123 from 17 overs. After losing Aiden Markram for 18, they looked in control at 77 for three in the eighth before Alzarri had Joseph Heinrich Klaasen caught behind for 22.

Roston Chase’s spin picked up the key wicket of Tristan Stubbs for 29, while a spell of three for 12 made for a tense finish with five needed from the final over. But Jansen quickly finished it off, hitting the first ball for six, putting the unbeaten South African at the top of their Super 8 pool as England moved into the last four.

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“Rash has been exceptional for 10 years,” said Livingstone, as England awaited events in the second Super Eight group to discover which semi-final they will play (India in Guyana on Thursday). “He’s getting better and better. We are incredibly lucky to have someone like him who is extremely consistent, takes wickets and doesn’t make runs.

“I have the best of both worlds. I have one of the best off-spinners England has had and also one of the best leg-spinners. It’s pretty perfect. Adil is always talking to me and telling me different things to try; what he thinks and what he should do. Moeen is the same. I feel really blessed to have both of them to help me become a better bowler.”

Livingstone’s own campaign reflects the role of bits and pieces on the sidelines. He has faced 33 balls but has one major regret. After dragging England to 25, he needed the last 18 balls against South Africa, cracking 33 off 17, before holing out in the clutch moment. “I felt this was my time in the tournament,” he said.

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Not only is the 30-year-old ranked as a batsman, as opposed to the top four in the domestic T20, but he never quite knows whether his bowling will be used and, if so, how much and when. He bought the wicket of Rovman Powell in a single over that cost 20 runs against the West Indies, and then did not turn his arm in the match against South Africa. On Sunday he was Rashid’s wingman and sent four overs, one for 24.

Livingstone said: “I honestly don’t feel like I have the most glamorous role in this team. It’s different than what I’ve been used to for most of my career. It’s been a mental thing over the last few weeks, making sure I’m in the right place mentally when I need to be.

“But I feel I hit the ball quite well against South Africa and bowled quite well [against USA]. So I think it’s the last two performances with bat and ball. Who knows, hopefully I won’t be needed in the next two games and we can win a World Cup. Sometimes in tournament cricket it is better to sneak in at the end and get the ball.”