Ahmedabad, March 18 (IANS) Pace bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/30) and Hardik Pandya (2/16) put in an inspirational performance, using change of pace to good effect, to power India to an eight-run victory in the fourth T20 International against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium here on Thursday.
The win brought the five-match series level at 2-2, keeping it alive.
England, who were set a target of 186 lost the third match’s hero Jos Buttler early but kept themselves in the chase through Jason Roy (40 off 27 balls), Jonny Bairstow (25 off 19) and Ben Stokes (46 off 23) and looked well set to chase the target and at 140/4 in 16 overs needed 46 off 24 deliveries, a very achievable equation.
However, two wickets off two balls by Shardul Thakur (3/42) in his third over pegged England back. Thakur’s change in pace surprised both Stokes and Eoin Morgan (4) as they fell in successive deliveries caught in the deep.
That allowed India breathing space. Thakur almost lost the game for India in his last over. England, needing 23 in the last over, got 13 runs off the first three balls — Thakur bowled two wides. However, they could make only one in the last three balls.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who replaced Yuzvendra Chahal, chipped in with two key wickets of Dawid Malan (14) and Bairstow
Earlier, debutant Suryakumar Yadav’s 31-ball 57 and Shreyas Iyer’s 37 (off 18 balls) helped India post their highest total of the ongoing T20I series.
The host team lost openers K.L. Rahul and Rohit Sharma, without the two making much of an impression. The opening pair put on 21 before Rohit Sharma was caught and bowled off a slower ball. Rahul, fighting to retain his place in the Indian team following a couple of ducks, stayed on as Yadav went berserk but couldn’t make much of an impact. Rahul fell for 14 in 17 balls.
Yadav, who got off the mark in international cricket with a six over fine leg, hit three sixes and smashed six fours. He followed his Mumbai Indians teammate Ishan Kishan to score a half-century on debut. Kishan achieved the feat in the second T20 International on March 14.
Skipper Virat Kohli, batting at No. 4 and a slot below Yadav, could make just one but Rishabh Pant chipped in with 30 off 23 balls.
Iyer, however, provided the late fillip to take India to a fighting total. Among England bowlers, Jofra Archer was the most successful, picking four for 33 while Mark Wood was again economical going for just 25 in his four overs and picking one wicket.
England had won the toss and elected to bowl. Spinner Chahal was dropped from the India squad for Chahar while Yadav replaced Kishan, who captain Kohli said has a groin strain.
India 185/8 in 20 overs (S Yadav 57, S Iyer 37, J Archer 4/33) beat England 177/8 in 20 overs (B Stokes 46, J Roy 40, S Thakur 3/42, H Pandya 2/16, R Chahar 2/35)