BRISTOL: Rohit Sharma backed up the heroics of pace bowler Hardik Pandya by hitting 100 not out as India clinched the T20 international series at Bristol. Sharma became only the second Indian to pass 2,000 runs in this format as India chased down their target of 199 with eight balls and seven wickets to spare.
England batted first and threatened to post a huge score before stuttering at the end and finishing on 198-9 after their 20 overs. Pandya took 4-38, his best figures in T20 cricket and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni became the first player to take five catches in international T20 and ran out Chris Jordan on the last ball of England’s innings for good measure.
Then Pandya was promoted up the order to produce a quickfire 33 not out that got India home in front of a crowd that was mostly fans supporting the away team. Sharma praised Pandya’s calmness, saying: “He has done that a few years now. He is used to it now and he is doing it perfectly. The way he bowled gave him confidence to bat.”
The 30-year-old Sharma produced his best batting of the series and put on 89 with his captain Kholi, the other Indian with 2,000 T20 runs, for the third wicket as India might the task look easy. Sharma also became the second man, after Colin Munro of New Zealand, to score three international T20 centuries.
Virat Kholi made 43 as the pair took advantage of some short boundaries at the County Ground to pepper the stands with sixes until Kholi fired a return catch to Jordan. Earlier Jordan had taken a stunning running and diving catch to dismiss KL Rahul in the deep to add to a stunning effort from Jake Ball at backward square leg that removed Shikhar Darwan.
After England squared the series in Cardiff last Friday India needed to win to make it seven successive international T20 series win in succession. England captain Eoin Morgan said: “On a small ground on a good wicket we would expect to score more than 198. This series for us has produced three different performances.”
England had threatened to run away with the game and post a massive total until Pandya and Dhoni intervened and kept the chase total, on a small ground, realistic. The hosts got off to a flier thanks to Joss Buttler and Jason Roy.
Deepak Chahar’s first over in international T20 cricket, and the first of the innings, cost 13 runs with Buttler accounting for 12 of them and within four overs England were 43-0. Roy hit 67 from 31 balls, including seven sixes which equalled the most by an England batsman in T20.
England looked set for score of over 240 before Pandya applied the brakes. He dismissed Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan, the returning Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow all after conceding 22 off his first over.
But with a total in excess of 240 looking likely the England middle order imploded to a combination of Pandya and the gloves of Dhoni. – AFP