India won by 8 runs
IND 185/8 (20)
ENG 177/8 (20)
A belter. A thriller. A batting-first victory. A choke. Umpiring controversies. A newbie outshining the senior pros. An overdose of cutters. And even more dew. It may've taken four games to come, but this is the cricket we're used to watching in India, with India. So this was me, Vineet Anantharaman, scribbling it out for you in the company of Abhinand Raghavendran, Rishi Roy and our scorer, Mukesh Gowda. Until Saturday, and 3-2 one way or the other (with a superover thrown in as well), ta ta!!
There were quite a few firsts on Thursday when India faced England in the fourth T20I in Ahmedabad. Suryakumar Yadav got an opportunity to bat for the first time in international cricket, and he made the most of it. For the first time in the series, the dew factor came into play. KL Rahul entered double digits for the first time in the series (although his knock of 14 didn't provide India the impact they desired at the start of the innings). Virat Kohli was out stumped for the first time in T20Is while Jofra Archer bagged his first four-wicket haul.
Dew also meant that Washington Sundar conceded in excess of 50 for the first time in his T20I career. However, thanks to clever variations from the pacers, India managed to defend a total successfully for the first time in the series, and in doing so set up an enticing decider.
Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes likened the must-win weekend clash as the closest thing in terms of preparation for a World Cup final. And it may well be a dress rehearsal for the summit clash of the multi-team event that starts in October, considering the T20I credentials of both teams, who are heavyweights in the 20-over format. Since September 2017, India have only lost twice in 19 T20I series they have been part of (including the Nidahas Trophy) while England haven't lost a T20I series since the loss to India in July 2018. After a barrage of punches and counter-punches so far in this series, the India-England clash on Saturday will be a nightmare for punters.
India Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Suryakumar Yadav, Axar Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Tewatia, Navdeep Saini, T Natarajan, Rahul Chahar
England Squad: Jos Buttler (wk), Eoin Morgan (c), Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Sam Curran, Chris Jordan, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Tom Curran, Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Reece Topley, Liam Livingstone
England, for all their dominance, have some concerns as well - and in a World Cup year, it will come as a worry for a side that looked settled till now. Jos Buttler and Jason Roy, unlike the Indian openers, have been scoring well while Morgan will also be pleased with the way Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow handled the spin match-ups in the fourth game. But the lack of runs from Dawid Malan and the skipper himself - although not a big worry at the moment - will keep the think-tank jittery if it continues. As far as bowling is concerned, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer have been England's primary weapons, with their pace unsettling the Indian batsmen. But Chris Jordan has blown hot and cold, Sam Curran has got limited opportunities with the ball, and Moeen Ali none.
"Yes and no." That was Virat Kohli's smiling answer to whether India are planning to stick to their five-bowler strategy. He was speaking after India had just lost the third T20I to England by eight wickets and looked obligated to rethink their team combination. All but that has come easy for India of late.
India came into this series wanting to "bat freely" and not depend on "one batsman having to bat long." And as fate would have it, that's how they brought up their only win in the series so far. In fact, it was Kohli, who in the lead-up to these games had spoken about wanting to break away from the "pattern," playing the anchor at one end as Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant did their thing from the other.
The win had come at the cost of a bowler, a strategy that backfired for India only a couple of nights later. They struggled for wiggle room in bowling against an all-attacking Jos Buttler who would take England to victory. India would have killed for a sixth bowling option on the night but they would also argue how that strategy had failed them earlier in the series when their five batsmen and an all-rounder could only total 124 runs across 20 overs -- the scoring made difficult in no small measure by a tacky, two-paced pitch, published by - The Beyond News (Sport)