Rohit Sharma’s elegant unbeaten century made it a walk in the park for India as it cruised to a seven-wicket victory against England to clinch the three-match T20 International series 2-1 here on Sunday.
The Indian vice-captain made a target of 199 look easy on a small Bristol ground after the visiting bowlers did a commendable job to restrict the host, who looked set at one point to score well beyond 200.
Captain Virat Kohli (43 off 29 balls) played his part with his authoritative strokeplay, while Hardik Pandya, who shone with the ball earlier with a four-wicket haul, also made a significant contribution with the bat. Pandya hit 33 not out off just 14 balls as India reached 201 for 3 in 18.4 overs.
With this performance, India clinched its sixth consecutive T20I series win. India is on an unbeaten run of T20I series wins stretching back to September 2017.
The win sets the tone for the three-match ODI series, starting from July 12.
Rohit stroked his way to 100 not out, his third T20I hundred, with the help of 11 fours and five sixes, adding 89 runs for the third wicket with Kohli, who got his first score of note on the tour. Virat’s 43 had two fours and two sixes.
AS IT HAPPENED: India vs England, 3rd T20I at Bristol
Chasing, India made a bright start, with 21 runs on board after the second over, but opener Shikhar Dhawan (five) holed out to David Willey, with Jake Ball taking a diving catch at short fine leg.
Rohit was in good touch and hit Liam Plunkett for two sixes and a four in the fourth over.
K.L. Rahul (19 off 10 balls) fell to a spectacular catch by Chris Jordan, who covered the ground from long-on and then flung himself full length and held on to the ball. Despite the wicket, India was on course with 70 on board for two wickets at the end of powerplay.
Ben Stokes was introduced in the seventh over and he made an immediate impact by conceding two runs. But, Rohit continued to bat freely and reached his 50 off 28 balls in the ninth over. India reached 100 for two at halfway mark.
Rohit, then, smashed Plunkett for a six and a four in the 11th over, and Kohli, who came to the crease at the fall of Rahul's wicket, joined the party with a six in the next over.
The Indian captain began to gain in confidence and hit another six off Plunkett, before he was dismissed caught and bowled by Jordan in the 15th over.
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Pandya, who followed, immediately found the boundaries and India needed 29 from the last three overs to win. India took 20 runs in the 18th over, with Pandya hitting two fours and a six. After Rohit brought up his ton, Pandya hit the winning runs, a six off Jordan. This was Rohit's third T20I century. He became the second batsman after New Zealand's Colin Munro to hit three T20I tons.
Earlier, opening batsman Jason Roy rained sixes in his blistering innings of 67 off just 31 balls, but India fought back. Pandya's 4/38 restricted England to 198 for nine.
Sent into bat, Roy and his opening partner Jos Buttler (34 runs of 21 balls) blitzed their way to 94 runs from 7.5 overs.
During the England innings, Indian wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also became the first wicketkeeper to complete 50 catches in T20Is by taking five catches.
Some poor bowling from Indian pacers, who either sprayed the ball or bowled too short, helped England get off to a bright start.
Buttler was dropped by Siddharth Kaul when on 20, with Chahal being the unfortunate bowler. Roy, on the other hand, reached his third T20I half-century off only 23 balls, inclusive of four fours and five sixes.
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The breakthrough came just as India was starting to wonder where to bowl to the opening duo. Kaul (2/35) bowled a quicker, fuller delivery and Buttler missed as he was bowled.
Pandya bowled poorly in his first spell, against the field set by his captain, and was taken for two fours and two sixes, but returned later to restrain the English middle order.
In the 14th over, Chahal missed a chance to dismiss Eoin Morgan (then on 4), failing to latch onto a high catch at cover only to end up banging his head on the ground. He went off for treatment, but Morgan did India a favour with another skier off the very next ball. Dhoni completed the catch. Pandya was not done yet, as he had Alex Hales (30) caught behind.
England lost four wickets for 46 runs before Ben Stokes (14) and Jonny Bairstow (25 off 14 balls) had a 37-run partnership. There was another mini-collapse thereafter, as the host lost five wickets for 21 runs in the last 14 balls.
England 198 for 9 in 20 overs (Jason Roy 67, Jos Buttler 34, Alex Hales 30; Hardik Pandya 4 for 38), lost to India 201 for 3 in 18.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 100*, Virat Kohli 43; David Willey 1 for 37) by seven wickets.
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