England’s international summer ended with a victory in the one-off Twenty20, as India fell four runs short of overhauling a target that had looked to be theirs for the taking at one stage, much to the disappointment of an Edgbaston full house dominated by supporters of the away team.
In both innings the last quarter was the most significant. England, who had been shackled by India’s slow bowlers during the middle overs, added 81 to their score in the final five overs, most of them from the bat of captain Eoin Morgan, who ended a dreadful run of form by hitting 71 off 31 balls, his tally of seven sixes equalling Ravi Bopara’s record for the most in a T20 innings for England.
A 79-run partnership in 53 balls between Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan for the second Indian wicket gave the visitors what appeared to be the perfect platform for victory. They needed 46 from the last five overs but fell short, with MS Dhoni hitting 12 off the first four balls of the final over with 17 needed but then declining a single from the fifth rather than leave T20 debutant Ambati Rayudu with the responsibility of hitting a boundary off the last ball.
It meant Dhoni needed to hit a six to win the game, which proved beyond him as Chris Woakes, who had seen a full ball somehow lifted over midwicket for six at the start of the over, took the pace off his last delivery, which demanded that the Indian captain would need to produce all the power himself it he were to clear the rope again.
The turning point of the contest had been the dismissal of Kohli in the 15th over, caught in the deep after going to hook Steven Finn when he top-edged a pull. Finn, Harry Gurney – who bowled Suresh Raina with a superb yorker –and Woakes were impressive under pressure. The latter displayed the same ice-cool nerve that he had summoned at the death as Birmingham Bears beat Lancashire to win the domestic T20 final last month.
“After a tough summer, it is great to end the season with smiles in the dressing room,” Morgan said. “We worked very hard and to finish on such a high against a very strong T20 team is an achievement.
“It was important given that the one-day and the T20 sides are in transition that we won today, to take the pressure off us a little and allow us to experiment a little bit before the World Cup next year.
“It was a good game and the final over was brilliant, one of the reasons you play cricket. For young guys coming through, to experience this at this level is invaluable. Woakesy, Steven Finn and Harry Gurney were outstanding at the end.”
Morgan’s day began well when he won the toss and Alex Hales gave him the positive start he had asked for, sweeping Ravi Ashwin clear of the boundary for six in the opening over and lofting Mohit Sharma high in the air over long-on in the second but England’s progress in the powerplay overs was held up by early departures for Jason Roy and Moeen Ali.
Roy, the leading scorer in domestic T20 this summer, showed no sign of debut nerves when he reverse-swept his second ball for four but fell in only the third over when he failed to clear Ajinkya Rahane at cover. Moeen, booed by the Indian crowd for no obvious reason other than his ethnicity, had not scored when he mistimed a ball from Mohit Sharma that he chipped tamely to the same fielder.
Joe Root should have departed cheaply too, dropped on eight at square leg, where two fielders converged, both watching the descent of the ball initially, until Ashwin declared it his but then dropped it. Thereafter, England failed to develop any momentum in the middle phase, pinned down by the slow bowling trio of Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and the newcomer, leg-spinner Karn Sharma, who claimed a wicket in his second over when Root top edged a sweep and fell to a good running by Rayudu.
Hales blasted his third six, off Jadeja in the 10th over, only to be out attempting another next ball, when Rahane sprinted in from long-on to take a superb catch. Only when Morgan escaped the shackles did this change – with the left-hander doing so in spectacular fashion.Reuse content