India pulled off a five-run victory in a last-ball thriller over England in the second Twenty20 International on Sunday night to level the three-match series.
India had a couple of tasks on hand when they arrived at the VCA Stadium here. Virat Kohli & Co needed victory to keep their hopes alive going into the final game in Bangalore. India also had to open their account, not having won at this venue.
In the end, India accomplished both as they held their nerve to clinch the match and level the series 1-1.
Put into bat, India managed just 144 for eight in 20 overs, courtesy KL Rahul’s 47-ball 71 (6x4s and 2x6s). India then restricted England to 139/6 after a superlative performance by pace duo Ashish Nehra (3/28) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/20). All-rounder Hardik Pandya did not get to bowl.
Nehra gave the start India wanted the seasoned seamer to provide. He not just kept England openers Jason Roy and Sam Billings in check, he also ensured they were back in the dugout soon after.
He first removed Billings (12) with a short ball after the batsman charged down the pitch. His next delivery took the leading edge of Roy’s willow as the packed crowd roared in approval.
Indian bowlers allowed England skipper Eoin Morgan and Joe Root to build a partnership before Amit Mishra broke the 43-run stand by dismissing Morgan to equal Ashwin’s tally of 200 wickets in T20 cricket.
The leg-spinner was over the moon when he breached Ben Stokes’ defence on duck. However, his celebration was cut short as it turned out that he had over-stepped.
But Nehra returned for his second spell and trapped Stokes leg-before for 38. Bumrah kept up the pressure by giving away just three runs in the 18th over.
However, Nehra leaked 16 runs in the penultimate over to bring the equation to eight runs off the final over.
Bumrah got a lucky breakthrough after umpire C Shamshuddin ruled Root leg before, failing to pick the huge inside edge.
Root was furious while he walking back on 38. Shamshuddin had earlier given a LBW reprieve to Virat Kohli when he was on seven.
Bumrah then rattled the furniture of Jos Buttler (15) to leave England requiring seven off two balls. England took a bye to bring it down to six off the last ball. However, Moeen Ali failed to connect the final delivery as Bumrah heaved a sigh of relief.
RAHUL FINDS TOUCH
India’s batting revolved around Rahul. England bowlers were smart in their strategy. On a slow pitch, they bowled even slower. The variations in pace made it even more difficult for most of the Indian batsmen. Chris Jordan was the pick of the bowlers for England with three for 22 in four overs while Moeen Ali was the most economical, claiming one for 20.
India managed just 36 runs in the final five overs and the England bowlers had the hosts in disarray towards the end where they lost four wickets (Manish Pandey, Hardik Pandya, Amit Mishra and MS Dhoni) in five balls with three coming off in the final over.
England again didn’t allow India to build partnerships. The 56-run stand between Rahul and Manish Pandey (30) for the fourth wicket was their only big partnership.
Rahul showed no sign of poor form as he belted some huge blows to stop England bowlers from dominating completely.
Rahul was also smart in his approach. He knew Ali was in good momentum and decided not to take any chances in his final over.
Rahul unleashed sensational drives off leg spinner Adil Rashid as chants of ‘Rahul Rahul’ did the rounds in the stadium.
Morgan brought back his death-overs specialist Jordan and gave England the breakthrough straightaway, dismissing Rahul, who holed out at deep midwicket to Stokes.