Three years ago, Alex Hales missed out on a World Cup winner’s medal with England when he was suspended from duty for the 2019 tournament on home soil.
He has been absent for much of the time since. Now he appears intent on righting that wrong, after guiding England into Sunday’s T20 World Cup final against Pakistan in Melbourne.
The opener made 86 not out for England in what was a demolition against India.
In concert with Jos Buttler, he helped secure a 10-wicket win to leave the majority-Indian crowd at Adelaide shell-shocked. They still had four overs to spare by the time Buttler smashed the winning runs.
This tournament has been a tough one for opening batters, but England’s top two had hinted in the previous two games that they were getting the measure of the task.
Just as Mohammed Rizwan and Babar Azam had done the previous day in the first semi-final for Pakistan, England’s openers broke the back of the chase.
Their century alliance came up on the first ball after the mid-innings drinks break. Hales had the dominant share, with 63 of those 101 runs, having taken just 28 balls to get to his half century.
It is rare for Buttler to seem sedate in comparison to any batting partner, but he was happy to sit in, and he was hardly dawdling himself.
With the outcome assured, he stepped on the accelerator. He got to 50 in 36 balls. Shortly after, he laced a 100 metre six straight back over Mohammed Shami’s head.
It felt like England were showboating by that point, but India were not exactly helping themselves. Off the very next ball, Suryakumar Yadav and Virat Kohli made a confused attempt at catching Buttler in the deep. It ended with Yadav punching the ball a good distance to the rope for four.
Earlier, Kohli had made another half-century, but was overshadowed for India by Hardik Pandya.
The all-rounder top scored with 63, which included hitting the last 12 balls he faced for 39. Although that assault helped India to post 168 for six, it never threatened to be enough.