England vs India 2018: India's exceptional death bowling is SK Turning Point of 3rd T20I
In sharp contrast to the preceding match at Cardiff, the ground staff at Bristol decided to roll out an incredibly flat pitch to cater to the batting might of the two lineups.
With Rohit Sharma's unbeaten century taking centre stage, India's formidable top-order made mincemeat of a delicate run-chase to seal the T20I series under considerable pressure.
The eerily nonchalant manner in which they chased 199 underscored India's strength in the shortest format.
However, the visitors' clinical seven-wicket triumph came on the back of one of their best death bowling efforts in recent times.
At one point in time, England appeared to be heading towards a monstrous total. However, the Indian seamers halted their progress by operating cannily in the last three overs.
With as many as six wickets at their disposal, the hosts managed to score just 23 runs and consequently finished at a below-par score.
England openers set a fiery platform
After winning a handy toss, skipper Virat Kohli opted to bowl first. While the decision was born out of their comfort level in a run-chase, the greenish tinge on the surface also plays a role. In leaving out the game-changing Kuldeep Yadav for an extra seam option, India produced a shocker even before the series decider could begin.
England's explosive openers showed that the discernible grass cover on the pitch only served the purpose of facilitating shot-making instead of aiding seam movement. Jason Roy and Jos Buttler launched a fierce attack on India's inexperienced pacemen.
With the threat of Bhuvneshwar Kumar taken care of by injury, Buttler preyed on debutant Deepak Chahar's unconvincing style of bowling. Roy took a special liking to Umesh Yadav's extra pace as well as Hardik Pandya's hit-the-deck approach. The opening duo enabled England to reach a daunting 73/0 at the end of the Power Play overs.
Splendid death bowling lifts India
In just his second appearance for India, Siddarth Kaul provided a major breakthrough by getting rid of Buttler. Roy's exit further derailed England's momentum. Pandya removed the likes of Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales to secure a rare double wicket over for captain Kohli.
When the last five overs began, England were still comfortably perched at 150/4. With wickets in hand, they were entertaining thoughts of batting India out of the game. Kaul kickstarted the visitors' resurgence by partaking only nine runs from the 16th over of the innings.
Umesh Yadav struggled to adapt to the demanding conditions on offer even as England's batting depth threatened to break free. What followed was an impressive riposte by the Indian seamers.
Pandya completed his spell by conceding only six runs from his final over. More pertinently, he procured the vital scalps of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. Aside from the solitary six by Liam Plunkett, Umesh showed remarkable composure as well.
Kaul rounded off the innings by giving away just seven runs from the last over. The even-paced surface, as well as short boundaries, were designed to evoke a high-scoring contest. Yet, it was the bowlers who had ensured that India went into the halfway break with immense confidence.
Rampaging Rohit aces stiff run-chase
The decisive effort of their seamers had restricted England to 198. Despite losing Shikhar Dhawan early in the run-chase, India never ceded their positive approach. Shedding his indifferent form leading up to this game, Rohit Sharma blazed away in the Power Play overs.
Kohli joined Rohit in the middle and made sure that India was in firm control. While his elegant batting partner targeted the boundary, the captain brilliantly manipulated the field and ran hard between the wickets.
Following on from his commendable performance with the ball, Pandya applied the finishing touches to India's pursuit of the target.
Even as Rohit remained unbeaten on 100, the hard-hitting all-rounder's quickfire cameo ushered in the visitors' comprehensive victory in the penultimate over of the match. Winning the T20I series 2-1 allowed India to begin their England tour on a promising note.
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