Recent Match Report – England vs India 2nd T20I 2020/21
India 166 for 3 (Kohli 73*, Kishan 56) beat England 164 for 6 (Roy 46) by seven wickets
A thrilling debut half-century from Ishan Kishan tore apart the second T20I in Ahmedabad, before a timely return to form from Virat Kohli sealed the contest with 13 balls to spare, as India bounced back from their opening-rubber defeat to level the series with an emphatic seven-wicket win.
It was another sluggish deck at Motera – one which appeared, in the latter stages of England’s own innings, to have given up the ghost completely, as Shardul Thakur pointed the way to victory with a split-fingered masterclass in England’s sub-par total of 164 for 6.
But, even allowing for the dew factor which kicked in under the lights, England’s own bowlers found nothing with which to respond – at least after Sam Curran had launched their reply with an immaculate wicket-maiden that culminated in KL Rahul edging to the keeper for a duck.
That, however, would prove to be a false dawn. Sam remained the pick of England’s bowlers with four overs for 22 all told, and Jofra Archer proved economical while lacking his usual menace. But the remaining three seamers all endured chastening days – not least Tom Curran, who was back in the team after Mark Wood pulled up lame with a bruised ankle, but failed to turn up on a pitch which, to judge by India’s own efforts, ought to have suited his variation-laden style.
Instead, Tom might as well have been transported back to IPL duty in Sharjah, as Kishan ignited India’s powerplay effort by lashing his opening over, the sixth, for 16 runs, including a towering first-ball six over long-on.
It was a continuation of the form and confidence with which he had helped the Mumbai Indians seal the IPL in November, and having whipped his first ball in international cricket, from Archer, off his legs for four, he clattered along to his half-century from 28 balls. He struck four of India’s nine sixes – more than England’s entire line-up could muster between them – and confirmed, at the age of 22, that India’s conveyor belt of preternaturally talented youngsters is once again whirling like a treadmill.
Kohli goes back to basics
Throughout his innings, Kishan had a calm old head at the other end to guide him, and cajole him in equal measure. After back-to-back ducks in his last two international innings, Kohli admitted at the post-match presentations that he had had to go back to “focussing on the basics” to turn his form around, and – even allowing for a notable moment of good fortune on 10 – he managed just that with a final flourish that reaffirmed his majesty in this format.
Kohli’s winning hit, a pull over backward square off Chris Jordan, carried him to 3000 T20I runs, and was his third six of the night, along with five fours. Rishabh Pant – overshadowed for once but never outmatched – served up a pitch-perfect cameo of 26 from 13 balls, with two fours and two sixes to reinforce the sense that normal service was being resumed after an off day on Friday.
But on a night when England’s big guns had been spiked by a thinly-stretched but perfectly on-song five-man India attack, Eoin Morgan could find no combination of pace, spin or seam to unlock India’s rebooted batting line-up – one in which Suryakumar Yadav, the second injection of batting from Mumbai’s IPL-winning stable, wasn’t even called upon.
Did we see a glimpse of India’s new approach to T20Is?
Roy the lone ranger in flatlining innings
For a man who had come into the series under a fair bit of scrutiny, Jason Roy’s desire to keep throwing the bat in spite of personal circumstance remains a priceless commodity. After opening the series with 49 from 32 in Friday’s uncomplicated chase, he again top-scored with 46 from 35 on Sunday – a scratchy affair while it was being compiled, but an innings that gained in stature as his team-mates’ struggles for fluency were revealed later in the innings.
At no stage of England’s innings was it easy to hit through the line- and by the time Thakur was causing Ben Stokes to tear out what remains of his hair with a diet of scuttling cutters at the death, it seemed nigh on impossible. But not that it stopped Roy from trying, as he flogged the first ball of the second over, from Washington Sundar, high over long-on for six, before avenging Jos Buttler’s first-ball duck with a hoick through midwicket to disrupt Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s length.
India spin it to win it
What little value existed for England was to be found behind square off the spinners – as Roy repeatedly attempted to prove as he unfurled his reverse-sweep time and again off the legspin of Yuzvendra Chahal. After an innings with as many missed connections as Craigslist, he finally nailed two in three balls to leave England handily placed at 74 for 2 after nine overs, especially with the prospect of Sundar’s offspin being tossed back into his leg-dominant arc.
Sure enough, Roy did not hold back – climbing into Sundar’s very first delivery, only to find more height than distance and pick out Kumar on the midwicket rope. Jonny Bairstow perished shortly afterwards in near-identical fashion, as Sundar dropped the pace and reaped the rewards for another mistimed piece of big hitting.
The depth of England’s batting is their main reason why they have risen to the top of the ICC rankings, but it’s rare that they’ve all fizzled in the same innings, rather than flame out in a more gloriously dramatic failure.
Perhaps Buttler could have made the difference in the mid-innings, much as he’s been charged with doing for the Rajasthan Royals in recent IPLs. Instead, England’s Nos. 3-6 made 24 from 23 (Dawid Malan), 20 from 15 (Bairstow), 28 from 20 (Morgan) and 24 from 21 (Stokes). To a man, they committed T20’s cardinal sin, of getting in at an unspectacular run rate, then getting out before they could kick on.
India loose, England looser
In a low-scoring contest, the fielding was always likely to play a vital factor, and after missing scarcely a beat in their opening-match victory, England seemed well placed to capitalise on another underwhelming display from India.
The errors were dotted across the innings. Chahal missed a violent return chance off Roy; Bairstow scudded a pull through Yadav’s hands on the fence; Shreyas Iyer was beaten by the spin on the cover boundary as Morgan climbed into a wide ball from Thakur. And when Kohli demolished the stumps while gathering a gentle return from the deep, and threw the ball away for overthrows as he did so, the sense pervaded that India still weren’t quite back on their A-game.
But the sum of those mishaps was nothing compared to the two critical moments in England’s reply. With Kohli on 10, and still not fully up to speed, Jordan found his edge off a leg-side waft, only for Buttler to spill a regulation take behind the stumps – his decision to go for the catch with both gloves fatally undermining his reach as he dived to his left.
But that error was nothing compared to the goober to end all goobers. With Kishan climbing into his night’s work, Morgan had no choice but to fling the ball to his mid-innings lock-picker, Adil Rashid, in spite of the fear the left-hand batsman’s love of a lump over midwicket might prove to be a less-than-favourable match-up.
And so it initially proved, as Rashid’s third ball was cuffed in front of square for a one-bounce four. But moments later, he seemed to have sprung the perfect trap. A front-of-the-hander skidded into Kishan’s bat and cramped his attempts at a follow-up, but Stokes, running in from long-on, made an unfathomable hash of the chest-high chance. Fingers pointed skyward … gaze averted to the deck, as the ball burst out of his grasp.
And at 80 for 1 after nine overs, the puff had vanished from England’s game as Kishan celebrated his reprieve with back-to-back sixes in Rashid’s second over. The slider did for him before the over was out, but by then the game was gone.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket