Indians made a heavy weather of their batting in the last few overs to lose an otherwise winnable and the only T20 match of their English tour. It was the last game left in their itinerary before India flew back home. Everything pointed to an India victory until the better part of the match, before everything rested on 5 runs off the last two deliveries of Chris Woakes’ over. Dhoni strangely refused a single off the penultimate ball. Maybe, he thought that Ambati Rayudu could not finish the match with a boundary and perhaps felt more assured of whacking the last ball himself for six. But Dhoni’s heave off a slower ball didn’t connect as he wished and just a single accrued to give England a 3-run victory.
England’s captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and decided to bat first. They had a reasonably good start despite losing two wickets for 27 by the fourth over. India opened with Ravichandran Ashwin, who proved ineffective and yielded 17 runs to openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales. Mohit Sharma bowled the next to give away seven more. In the third over from Mohammad Shami, however, India met with success, when Roy tried to lift Shami out of the ground but only managed to miscue the shot over the head of the cover fielder. Rahane held on to a head-high chance to make it 27/1 for England. In the next over from Mohit Sharma, Rahane took another easy catch, when Moeen Ali misread the pace of the delivery and lobbed the ball high. Joe Root came next and in the company of Hales, carried the score to 75 in the tenth over, when Hales fell after trying to repeat a massive six scored off the previous delivery from Ravindra Jadeja. But it was Rahane again for the third time after taking two easier catches earlier. It was huge skier that looked like sailing into the crowd but Rahane covered a lot of ground from long-on and picked up a brilliant catch before the ball could fall on the side advertising board. But Hales played creditably scoring 40 off 25 balls with 3 four and 3 sixes. In the 12th over of the innings, England lost Joe Root as well to make it 85/4 for them. Root’ wicket gave debutant Karn Sharma his first T20 wicket off a top edge to deep midwicket, where Ambati Rayudu brought off a spectacular catch.
But the complexion of T20 games can be changed despite loss of early wickets if a single batsman could assume control. Eoin Morgan was there for England for this purpose and he had Jos Buttler for company at the other end. With Morgan leading an assault with Buttler and Ravi Bopara, England collected 81 runs in the last 5 overs. They whacked every Indian bowler with impunity with Morgan bring particularly severe in hoisting 7 sixes and 3 fours in his 31-ball 71. Bopara took 9 balls for his 21 and England finished with a very competitive 180/7 in 20 overs.
In reply, India began by losing Ajinkya Rahane in the second over but Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli batted with aplomb and maintained the run-rate above the required one. Indian reached 89/1 in 10 overs and just when it seemed that two would carry on further, Dhawan lost his wicket in trying to hit Chris Woakes without moving his feet. The ball missed his bat and uprooted his leg stump. Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina steadied India and progressed to 131 by 14th over. But in the 15th, Kohli lost his wicket to a stroke that he couldn’t control. Kohli had been India’s major failure of the English tour having failed to cross 40 runs in any of the 14 innings of Tests and ODIs taken together. But he found his form at the right juncture and came up with his fourth fifty in a row in T20 chases. His presence assured that India would cruise home without too much trouble. But his wicket brought England back into reckoning as other batsmen couldn’t consolidate. Raina and Jadeja fell in quick succession and Dhoni was uncharacteristically subdued. Rayudu joined him at 153/5 with only 2.2 overs left but the two batsmen squandered the scoring chances as the balls got fewer and fewer. Though Dhoni ended with 27 not out off 18 balls, 10 of those runs came in the last over. That shows the slow progress that Dhoni made after his arrival in the 15th over. Finally Dhoni’s famous penchant of doing everything in the last over, cost India the game that they should have easily won.
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