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Bhuvneshwar Kumar stifles England after Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma 50s; Team India take series 3-2

Team India held their nerve to win the fifth T20I. Pic: BCCI
Team India held their nerve to win the fifth T20I. Pic: BCCI
ANALYST
Modified 20 Mar 2021
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Scintillating fifties from Virat Kohli (80* off 52) and Rohit Sharma (64 off 34) trumped half-centuries from Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler as Team India clinched the fifth T20I by 36 runs. With the win, Team India also claimed the five-match series 3-2.

After Team India posted a mammoth 224 for 2 on the board, England lost Jason Roy for a duck in their massive chase. The right-hander tried to take on Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2 for 15) second-ball but was cleaned up. Malan (68 off 46) and Buttler (52 off 34) then featured in a sparkling second-wicket stand of 130 to keep England in the hunt.

England looked to be on course, reaching 127 for 1 after 12 overs before Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended the dangerous stand. He bowled a quiet over, forcing Buttler to hit one straight to Harik Pandya at long-off. Pandya then bowled the next over, conceded only six to ramp up the pressure on the opposition.

With pressure mounting, Shardul Thakur snared Jonny Bairstow (7) at sweeper cover with a slower delivery. He then cleaned up Malan with a knuckle ball, which the left-hander completely missed. That marked the second time in as many games Thakur claimed two wickets in an over.

England captain Eoin Morgan perished for one, trying to take on Pandya, as the visitors’ chase completely fell apart. Despite a couple of big hits from Sam Curran at the end, they were too little too late, as Team India restricted England to 188 for 8.

Earlier, Malan, who was under pressure going into the decider, stuck into Pandya in the second over of the England chase, smashing him for two fours and a six. A bouncer was smacked over deep square leg, while a slower ball was swatted to the deep midwicket boundary. Another shorter one was punished for four through deep backward square leg.

Malan was unstoppable, driving the length balls and finding the gaps with ease, as Team India’s bowlers were rendered ineffective on a batting beauty.

He raced to his fifty off 33 balls, picking T Natarajan off his hips and guiding him past fine leg for a four. The left-hander celebrated his half-century by launching the left-arm seamer inside-out over extra-cover for a maximum.

At the other end, Buttler feasted on half-trackers from leg-spinner Rahul Chahar. Thrice in two overs, Chahar dragged the ball down and on each occasion, Buttler sent the ball crashing over the ropes as Team India bowlers seemed to be panicking.

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The wicketkeeper-batsman began by attacking Washington Sundar, slamming him for consecutive boundaries - first down the ground and then over cover. He never looked in trouble after that, pulling a long hop from Shardul Thakur for a maximum.

Once the Buttler-Malan partnership was broken, though, it was all one-way traffic, as Team India dominated the proceedings.

Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli lift Team India to mammoth 224 in decider

Team India
Team India's batting stars Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Pic: ICC

Brilliant fifties from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma saw Team India post a mammoth 224 for 2 after being sent into bat by England in the fifth T20I in Ahmedabad.

The knocks from Kohli and Rohit were perfectly complemented by sizzling cameos from Suryakumar Yadav (32 off 17) and Hardik Pandya (39* off 17) as Team India posted their highest T20I total against England.

Earlier, Team India decided to leave out the struggling KL Rahul, which meant the captain moved up to open with Rohit Sharma. Virat Kohli was a silent partner in a brilliant opening stand of 94 in nine overs as Rohit Sharma teed off.

Rohit Sharma got into his groove by driving Jofra Archer for a four through point and cover in the second over. Leg-spinner Adil Rashid was then slammed over midwicket for a maximum.

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Fast bowler Mark Wood has been Team India’s nemesis in this series. However, Rohit Sharma welcomed him by drilling him for two boundaries down the ground. In the bowler’s next over, the right-hander launched a short one over fine-leg for a six.

The Team India opener raced to his fifty off only 30 balls, dispatching Sam Curran over backward square leg for another maximum. He celebrated by smashing Ben Stokes for a four and a six in the all-rounder's first over. However, a slower one from Stokes that kept low saw Rohit Sharma dragging the ball onto his stumps.

SuryakumarYadav came in and nonchalantly lofted Rashid over his head for a six, second-ball; he had smashed Jofra Archer for a first-ball six in the previous match. The 30-year-old made it two in two when he launched the leg-spinner for another maximum, this time inside-out over extra-cover.

In the 12th over of Team India's innings, Yadav hammered Chris Jordan for three consecutive fours. The first one was scooped to the right of Rashid at short fine leg, and the second was lofted over the same fielder. The pacer responded with a well-directed yorker, only for the batsman to guide it for another boundary, breaching the gap between point and short third man.

It needed an incredible catch from Jordan at the boundary to end Yadav’s blitzkrieg. The batsman launched Rashid with ease towards the onside. The ball seemed to be heading to the boundary, but Jordan, running from long-on, plucked the ball one-handed and threw the ball to Jason Roy, who gleefully accepted the catch.

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At the end of 14 overs, Kohli was batting on a sedate 41 off 31. Joined by Hardik Pandya, with a lot of wickets in hand, the two embarked on an all-out attack. Pandya began by ramping a short ball from Archer over the keeper’s head, knowing what was coming.

The all-rounder made Wood’s day worse, crashing two short balls for consecutive boundaries. Kohli also took a liking to the bowler in his last over. An off-cutter was pulled to the leg side for four. Next ball, a shorter one, was hauled between fine leg and deep square leg. Wood ended with 0 for 53 from his four.

The rising deliveries had been working against Pandya in the previous games, but on this pitch, the tall batsman enjoyed himself. When Jordan tried to unsettle him with shortish balls, Pandya responded by pulling the bowler for consecutive sixes. Jordan conceded 57 in his four, and even his incredible catch was credited to Roy in the record books.

Jofra Archer tried a few slower balls in the last over, but Kohli was equal to the task, dispatching them to deep square leg and sweeper cover for fours. 13 runs came off the last over as Team India posted a record score against England.

Published 20 Mar 2021, 23:27 IST
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