Different shirts, same result as England get home


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The Independent Online

A change of clothes but no change of fortune for England. Having spent the summer pushing India from pillar to post in white, they scraped home in blue last night.

Perhaps the tourists ought to have defended a total of 165 in the Twenty20 international, but then perhaps they ought to have done so many other things in the past five weeks. England overhauled them by six wickets with three balls to spare when Samit Patel hit three fours in the final over.

It was a narrower squeak than anything in the four Test matches but the feeling was evident that, if England can win a match such as this having conceded too many runs and then losing a wicket to the second ball of their innings, then they will find it difficult to lose.

Stuart Broad, England's captain said: "It was quite calm out there. The guys felt they had it under control." The guys, Patel and Ravi Bopara, were presumably the only people in the stadium who thought it so. After Eoin Morgan played the key innings of the match, England came close to mucking it up, but this was without reckoning that India are the current champions of the muck-up.

The story of India's innings was the story of their trip. Whenever they created a promising position, they squandered it.

Both sides fielded two debutants. England awarded caps to Alex Hales, who may prefer either to forget the occasion or hope another one comes along soon, and Jos Buttler, who barely featured. India's duo, in their way, were more involved.

Ajinkya Rahane, 23, hit 61 from 39 balls in a blistering start to his international career which made it seem like he had been doing it for years and Rahul Dravid, almost 39, played his first and last T20 international, struck three successive sixes and made you wonder why he had not been doing it for years.

England cannot have expected India's purposeful beginning but maybe it has been coming. When Dravid hit his sixes off Patel in the 11th over India were 101 for 1 and seemingly bound for 200. But as in the Test series, they were merely flattering to deceive. Four wickets fell for 13 runs in 21 balls and, though they recovered slightly, the end was timid.

Many sound judges thought the total was more than adequate. Hales went to his second ball planting his foot down the wrong line and the target seemed briefly mountainous.

Morgan changed the face of the encounter with a brisk, controlled 49 from 27 balls. He was out in unsatisfactory circumstances when a drive off the outside edge flew to point, where Rohit Sharma claimed a low catch.

Although Bopara had shared a partnership of 73 in 49 balls with Morgan, he was never comfortable. Each time he goes in he gives the impression that he is playing for his international career. When only three runs came off the 19th over, it seemed the match could be lost. Patel held his nerve.