India ride Suryakumar's brilliant 57 to beat England by 8 runs, keep T20I series alive
New Delhi, March 18, 2021
Riding on Suryakumar Yadav’s blistering performance with the bat and two timely strikes by Shardul Thakur, India hit back to keep the series alive with an outstanding eight–run victory in the fourth T20I against England at the Narendra Modi Stadoum in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
The series decider is slated on Saturday.
When Thakur removed Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan off successive deliveries India had the match in its grip but it was clinched off the penultimate ball. Jofra Archer broke his bat and also English hopes as he tried hoisting Thakur.
England’s response was below the expected standards of a team reputed to be the best in business in this format.
Faced with a target of 186, England, having opted to bowl first, was confronted by a maiden-over start from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and never really recovered to take control of the game. The early loss of Jos Buttler was just the boost India needed and it hung on to pull off a victory that sets up a mouth-watering end to this series.
The pressure mounted on England after India posted a competitive total and much depended on a sound start but it did not come through even there were moments when India appeared to be losing its hold, especially when Stokes was getting his shots right.
The match was an entertainer. A first ball six by Rohit Sharma and the first-ball six to open his international account by Suryakumar Yadav (57 off 31 balls) stood out so prominently in the first half of the match.
It was to be a critical contest given the fact that England led the five-match T20I series 2-1 and the dazzling start by India was an indication that aggression was the pre-determined key to the course the game was to take.
Yadav’s debut was sensational. He had long waited for this opportunity to be counted among the elite of Indian cricket in the shortest format of the game and he did not disappoint those who had faith in his abilities. There was a constant demand from his fans that Yadav be given a chance and it came in this match after he had been unfairly dropped from the third match of the series.
It can never be easy for a debutant to deliver when he is under intense scrutiny. Like Yadav. He did not show any nerves from the time he picked Jofra Archer to dispatch him with a delightful pull – a Nataraj shot that reminded us of Kapil Dev. His back-foot show was a class act as Yadav got into the best position to direct his shots.
The last edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) gave an indication of the awesome batting prowess that Yadav commanded and this knock was an extension of his amazing range of strokes. That he played them with exquisite ease and so precisely between the gaps spoke for this exciting batsman’s style.
Once again, K L Rahul disappointed. He has to rid himself of the demons that have impacted his footwork. When Virat Kohli was stranded in his anxiety to win the initial battle with leg-spinner Adil Rashid it appeared India had lost the plot.
The innings was re-launched by Yadav and Rishabh Pant with the onus on playing the big shots even as the England bowlers probed all possible angles to beat the bat.
The Yadav-Pant partnership demonstrated the chinks in the English attack as runs came in a canter. Yadav fell at the peak of his knock. The debate on whether Yadav was out or not may continue but there was no about that he brought a refreshing change in the Indian approach. He was fearless and must have created selection issues for the season ahead. It is going to be tough to keep Yadav out of the scheme of things and he certainly deserves a fair run.
Pant (30 from 23 balls) played some robust shots in his imitable style while Shreyas Iyer (37 from 18 balls) played his role well. The middle order had set the stage for Hardik Pandya who promised before falling to an acrobatic catch at cover by Ben Stokes.
India managed a decent total to defend, thanks mainly to the electric stuff that came from the bat of Yadav, who, expectedly, was chosen Man of the Match.
India 185/8 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 57, Shreyas Iyer 37, Rishabh Pant 30, Jofra Archer 4/33) beat England 177/8 in 20 overs (Ben Stokes 46, Jason Roy 40, Thakur 3/42).