England leveled the Twenty20 series against India with a thrilling last-ball victory at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
England leveled the Twenty20 series against India with a thrilling last-ball victory at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Eoin Morgan, captaining in place of the absent Stuart Broad, was the architect of England's successful pursuit of India's 177 for 8. In a chanceless knock, he shepherded the second half of England's innings before slamming the final delivery for six to seal the result in dramatic fashion.
Where India's start with the bat had been sluggish, England's was explosive. Michael Lumb, in particular, was a player transformed after his snail-paced knock in Pune. He picked up a boundary off the very first ball of England's chase, thanks to a shoddy piece of fielding down at third man, but most of his strokes were rather more authoritative and he rushed to a 30-ball fifty – his first for England – in the eighth over.
He and Alex Hales, who was badly dropped by Parvinder Awana when he'd made just 8, rattled along to an opening stand of 80 before Lumb was stumped off Yuvraj shortly after reaching his half-century.
Hales profited from the error, but when Morgan joined him at the crease England needed more than nine runs an over. They were helped by the heavy coating of dew covering the Wankhede outfield, which neutered India's spinners, but Yuvraj Singh bettered the conditions to give India the advantage with a spell of 3 for 17 in four overs of left-arm spin in the middle of England's innings.
The required run rate crept above 10 an over, but Morgan displayed remarkable <i>sang froid</i> to keep England hoping. He responded to the dismissal of Samit Patel in the 18th over with a flat-batted six over deep midwicket, and found a like-minded ally in Jos Buttler.
India's seamers, Awana and Ashok Dinda, were seemingly unable to hit a yorker length and both batsmen took a heavy toll. Buttler's hitting meant 9 runs were needed from the final over, with some hard running taking the requirement down to three from the final ball. Morgan seized upon the half-volley Dinda sent down, shellacking a monstrous six down the ground to silence the packed Wankhede Stadium and tie the T20 series 1-1.
Though England's batsmen got the better of India's bowlers, the home side's batsmen were not on top form either and India were off to a subdued start before their innings was revitalised by partnerships between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order, and Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni lower down. Those stands provided the ballast for an innings which stumbled into being with just seven runs and the wicket of a flailing Ajinkya Rahane in the first two overs.
Kohli sparked the turnaround with a spirited counterattack. His knock included seven boundaries, the pick of which was a silken cover drive off Luke Wright's medium pace in the sixth over. Indeed, Kohli added three more boundaries and twenty runs in total in that over, India having rushed to 59 for 1 at the end of the first Powerplay.
England struck back through the pace of Stuart Meaker, who pinned Kohli lbw for 38 to snap a 57-run stand. Wright recovered well after his mauling by Kohli, getting rid of Yuvraj – who was easily caught at long-on – before removing Gambhir.
When Rohit Sharma was bowled after heaving across the line at James Tredwell's offspin the match was evenly poised, with India 108 for 5 with five overs remaining. His departure brought Dhoni to the crease, and the Indian captain quickly set about boosting his team's total at the death.
He was ably assisted by Raina, the pair adding 60 runs in less than five overs in the midst of an electric display of Twenty20 power-hitting. Their efforts weren't quite enough to seal the series, however, and an inspired England will surely take some confidence into the one-day series in the new year.