Morgan’s 31-ball 71 makes the difference as England wins one-off T20I despite good hands from Kohli, Dhawan and Dhoni
India, in pursuit of 181, was cruising towards its target when Virat Kohli, who stroked a fluent 41-ball 66, and Shikhar Dhawan (33 from 28 balls) put together a second-wicket stand of 79. But England's persistence paid off and they struck at regular intervals to leave MS Dhoni with a little too much to do at the end.
That Dhoni nearly got India home is another story. With India needing 17 off the last over, Dhoni backed himself to get the runs and smacked a six and a four. But Chris Woakes, who had come under Kohli's wheels earlier in the innings, retained his composure as India finished inches short of the victory mark with Dhoni unbeaten on an 18-ball 27.
But, for the best part of India’s chase, it hardly looked the last-minute gasp it turned out to be. Kohli's wristwork against the pacers was as admirable as his footwork against the spin of Moeen Ali and James Tredwell. To India's delight, Kohli's famous hand-eye coordination, which had deserted him all summer, was back. And while Dhawan's wicket in the tenth over gave England a spring in their step, Kohli and Suresh Raina kept the scorecard ticking over.
To England's credit, it stuck to good lines and lengths. Tredwell choked the runs and built the pressure, and that soon translated into the wickets of Kohli and Raina (25 off 32 balls).
Kohli mistimed a pull to deep square leg off Steven Finn, while Raina was cramped for room and was bowled by a superb yorker from Harry Gurney. To add to India’s woes, Ravindra Jadeja attempted a second run that was never on to be run out, and England eventually finished the evening much like it began.
After opting to bat, England’s intent was very much on show. The execution wasn't spot on, at least early on, but Morgan, leading the side in Stuart Broad’s absence, displayed some clean hitting at the death to help England finish with 180 for 7.
Alex Hales held the innings together at the start, making 46 from 25 balls, after England was in a hint of trouble at 27 for 2. Jason Roy had a forgettable debut as he was dismissed for 8, while Ali was dismissed for a duck.
The middle overs were manned admirably by Hales and Joe Root, who made 26 from 29 balls, on a pitch that played a touch slower than it would normally – maybe because England Women and South Africa Women had played a Twenty20 International prior to this fixture – before Morgan's fury caught India off guard. A late onslaught, in which England plundered 81 off the last five overs, exposed India's old woes of bowling at the death.
Using the depth of the crease and the bottom hand to good effect, Morgan effortlessly pierced the gaps, smashing three fours and seven sixes, during his innings. The good work was carried forward by Ravi Bopara, who smashed 21 off 14 balls to help England finish on a high.
Amidst the carnage, debutant legspinner Karn Sharma gave a good account of himself by finishing with figures of 1 for 28 from four overs, while Mohammed Shami took 3 for 28.
In 90 minutes of whirlwind action, where India's death bowling was as poor as possible, there were flashes of brilliance on the field. Rahane made a seemingly impossible catch look ridiculously easy when he ran in from long-on and dived full length to his left to dismiss the well-set Hales in the tenth over. And Root, who earned a reprieve early on when R Ashwin put down a sitter at square leg, was caught brilliantly by Ambati Rayudu, who covered a lot of ground from deep midwicket to take the catch running forward.
In the end though, India’s profligacy in those last five overs came back to haunt it as England squeaked home.
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