A whirlwind unbeaten 52-ball 83 from Jos Buttler guided England past India by eight wickets in the third T20 here on Tuesday.
Chasing 157, Buttler’s blitz at the top of the order took England over the finish line with 10 deliveries to spare. The visitor grabbed a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Buttler assumed control after Jason Roy was dismissed cheaply in the fourth over. Buttler was severe on legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who bowled in the PowerPlay instead of Washington Sundar. Chahal, slow
through the air, was carted by Buttler for two straight sixes.
AS IT HAPPENED
Buttler’s offensive powered England to 57 for one in the first six overs, taking the air out the Indians. Sundar gave his side some hope when he had Dawid Malan stumped for 18, with a flat, 102-kmph fizzer.
Next man Jonny Bairstow, however, kept Buttler safe company to finish with an unbeaten 40. Buttler recorded his highest ever T20I score, going past his previous best of 77 not-out made against Australia last year.
The Indian fielding was shoddy, with Kohli dropping Buttler on 76 and Chahal giving Bairstow a life two overs later.
After being put in, it took some late fireworks from Virat Kohli (77 n.o., 46b, 8x4, 4x6) to push India to a respectable total. The England bowlers were brilliant for the most part, but succumbed to pressure in
Pacers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood were particularly impressive, generating great pace and steep bounce. Wood got opener K.L. Rahul with a peach, the ball cutting in late to hit the stumps. Rahul, who
now has scores of 0, 0 and 1 in this series, was squared up and cut an embarrassing picture.
Rohit Sharma, back from rest, was scratchy, falling to a pull for 15. Ishan Kishan, the hero of the second T20, was dismissed in similar fashion, getting a top edge off Chris Jordan.
Kohli and Rishabh Pant (25, 20b, 3x4) batted sensibly to put on 40 runs for the fourth wicket, before an unnecessary run-out cost Pant’s wicket. Having completed a comfortable double, Pant was pushed to take the third by an eager Kohli. Pant, who had backed up well beyond beyond the stumps, stood no chance of making the crease at the other end. It was a most untimely dismissal, which left India at a
precarious 64 for four.
The home team stuttered to 100 in 16 overs - in desperate need of acceleration. Kohli answered the call, swatting Jordan over the square-leg fence. Wood faced a worse fate in the next over, being carted by Kohli for maximums over mid-wicket and long-off. At the other end, Hardik Pandya (17, 15b, 2x6) was not at his best, but managed to carve out two sixes in the point and third-man region.
The pyrotechnics helped India rack up 56 runs in the last four overs, but it was not enough to tilt the match in its favour.
In a surprise move, the Indian team management decided to leave Suryakumar Kumar out of the eleven, despite the Mumbai cricketer not facing a ball in his debut match on Sunday.
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