Mumbai: India failed to cope with dry overs with the bat and then the failure of the specialist bowlers to add to Yuvraj Singh’s good work as England rode on a half-century from Michael Lumb and a captain’s innings from Eoin Morgan to seal a last-ball win by six wickets in the second, and last, Twenty20 International at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday (December 22).
Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach, the England new ball bowlers, had Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane in a spot of bother at the start and when Rahane (3) tried to get out of the dab-and-run mode, he only managed to sky a catch off Dernbach to Joe Root, the debutant, at the third-man boundary. The pitch had good bounce and pace and the going was tough at the start for India.
The first boundary of the innings came only in the fourth over when Virat Kohli flicked Dernbach past midwicket, and followed it up with a square cut for another four. That was the trigger. And from 13 for one after three overs, India ended the Power Play overs with 59 on the board – Kohli accounting for 37 as Gambhir looked quite out of sorts.
But Kohli fell, rather tamely, when he missed the line of a slower one from Meaker in the seventh over. His 20-ball 38, studded with seven hits to the fence, however, was a treat, constructed with beautiful pulls, drives and flicks.
Yuvraj (4) came and went, pulling Luke Wright from outside off straight down Root’s throat at long-on.
With two wickets falling quickly and Gambhir still failing to find the middle of his bat, there was a lull, broken only momentarily by Rohit Sharma’s straight six off James Tredwell as India reached 86 for three at the halfway mark.
Gambhir’s misery was finally over in the 11th over when he top-edged a pull off Wright to Bresnan at thirdman – his 17-run innings took up 26 balls.
But the Indian run-rate refused to pick up with the scoreboard reading 108 for four after 14 overs. And it didn’t get any better when a slog sweep Rohit (24) attempted off Tredwell connected with air as the ball hit middle-stump.
The onus was then on Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to take the Indian total to respectability.
The impetus finally came in the 17th over, bowled by Meaker, when Raina smashed three fours and a six, 20 runs came off the over as India raced to 143 for five with three overs left.
The 18th over, bowled by Dernbach, went for 18 more as Dhoni pulled the first delivery over square-leg and drove the last one over long-off for sixes. It was 161 for five then, and with the big hits as well as some hectic running coming into the picture, things looked good for a surge towards 180.
But there was another stutter as Dhoni (38) pulled Bresnan to Samit Patel at midwicket in the penultimate over after a 60-run stand with Raina off just 27 balls. R Ashwin (1) fell in the last over, bowled by Dernbach, while Piyush Chawla (0) was run out off the last delivery. Raina remained unbeaten on 35 as India reached 177 for eight.
That didn’t look enough when the English reply started. India were sloppy on the field – Parvinder Awana even dropping a dolly when Alex Hales pulled Ashok Dinda straight to him at the square-leg boundary – and the two medium pacers bowled far too many short deliveries. The result: after three overs, England had reached 34, and after five overs, 49. Lumb, and not Hales, was playing the role of aggressor this time.
The runs continued to flow, and at the end of Power Play, England were on 62 – marginally ahead of India at the same stage but, importantly, with all ten wickets in place.
It was only a matter of time before Dhoni turned to Yuvraj, and like in Pune, Yuvraj was introduced in the ninth over. And like in Pune, Yuvraj responded straightaway, skidding the ball past Lumb (50) on the step-out and Dhoni had an easy stumping to pull off.
With Chawla bowling a couple of cheap overs, the momentum seemed to have shifted away from England and Yuvraj made the most of it in his second over, when he trapped the struggling Wright (5) leg before.
Yuvraj, almost inevitably, picked up his third wicket in the 15th over – Hales (42) slog sweeping him to Dinda at the deep square-leg fence. After three for 19 in Pune, Yuvraj had done it again, returning figures of three for 17 in Mumbai.
But at 44 needed from four, and both Yuvraj and Ashwin having completed their spells, England had their nose slightly ahead in the close contest.
The need of the hour, for England, was sensible batting and though Morgan did exactly that, Samit Patel (9) mistimed a pull off Dinda to Gambhir at midwicket to give India another sniff.
But Morgan was well and truly in charge at this stage and with Jos Buttler (15*) pitching in with a four and a six off Awana in the 19th over, England went into the last over needing just nine runs.
It was gripping stuff after that, exactly what a T20I was supposed to dish out. Dinda had the ball and the first five deliveries went for just six runs, leaving Morgan to score three off the last ball. Dinda added to the moment, pulling up in his delivery stride as Morgan moved into position for a scoop a bit too quickly.
But that didn’t matter. When Dinda did deliver the ball, it was pitched up and Morgan (49*) smashed it straight down the ground at level with the second tier.
With India having won the first T20I in Pune, it was honours even at the end as England levlled the series 1-1 after beating India 2-1 in the Tests.