India beats England in T20I series as Rohit, Kuldeep and Hardik excel

By  Kersi  Meher-Homji

Well begun is more than half done. Indian cricketers have started their tour of England by winning the Twenty20 international (T20 I) series 2-1.

Last night they defeated England by seven wickets at Bristol in the third and final T20 I. Their heroes in the series were opening batsman Rohit Sharma, mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav and all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

India won  the first T20 I  at Manchester by 8 wickets with 10 balls remaining. Batting first England could manage 8 for 159 as Kuldeep Yadav dumbfounded their batsmen with a 5 for 24 haul. Only Jos Buttler could read his spin as he scored 69.

India’s number 3 batsman Lokesh Rahul stroked a magnificent 101 not out with 10 fours and five sixes and India won comfortably by 8 wickets with 10 balls remaining. Man of the Match Rahul said at the press conference, “I haven’t chased anything with so much heart and passion.”

The second T20 I  at Cardiff was a thriller, the result of the match in doubt till the final over. England won it by 5 wickets with only two balls in hand. Skipper Virat Kohli scored 47 but the rest of Indian batsmen failed and could total only 5 for 148. With Man of the Match Alex Hales remaining unbeaten with 58, England replied with 5-149 to level the series 1-all.

Now to the  final series deciding T20 I  at Bristol last night. Sent into bat, England started brilliantly as their openers Jason Roy (67 runs) and Jos Buttler (34) put on 94 runs in only 47 balls. A total of 225 was on cards but Hardik Pandya (4 for 38) took vital wickets and England was restricted to 198.

To chase 199 runs was no easy task. But Rohit Sharma played a scintillating and unbeaten innings of 100 enriched with 11 fours and five sixes to give India a promising start. He was partnered by Kohli (43 runs) and Pandya (33 not out).

India won by 7 wickets with eight balls to spare and with it the series 2-1. Rohit Sharma was both the Man of the Match and Man of the Series.

According to Bharath Seervi  in  ESPN, “Rohit Sharma became only the second player to score three T20 I hundreds. Colin Munro [of New Zealand] was the first to do so, getting there last year. Rohit scored his maiden T20 I century against South Africa at Dharamsala in 2015 and his second against Sri Lanka in Indore last year. Rohit’s 100 not out off 56 balls was his fifth century in all T20s, which is the most among Indian players and Asian players.”

Pandya became the first Indian cricketer and eighth overall to score 30 runs and take four wickets in a T20 International. The last such all-round performance by any player was in 2015, when West Indian Dwayne Bravo scored 31 and captured 4 for 28 against Sri Lanka.

A delighted Kohli said at the presentation after India series triumph, “I think the comeback from the bowlers was outstanding, we thought they [England] would get 225-230. The character they [Indian bowlers] showed is something we are really proud of. As captain, very happy to see that. We had the quality to bowl those wicket-taking deliveries. We applied pressure and pulled the game back. [Pandya] is a really good all-round cricketer, very confident, and the way he picked up those wickets is what you want to see in younger guys. Then he delivers with the bat, Rohit was obviously very special but Hardik was standout.

“The pitch was really flat, we enjoyed ourselves as batsmen. I think it was a brutal day for the bowlers. We backed up something and the guys produced the goods for us. We will continue to try different things in the batting order and  the bowlers. The guys are taking this as an opportunity. Great to start with a series win.”

India has won her last eight T20 International series, home and away, since 2016.

The three One-Day International series starts at Nottingham on 12th  July and the five Test series starts at Birmingham on 1st  August and ends on September 11 in London. So Aussie-Indian cricket fanatics, prepare to stay awake till 3am until September!



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