The final match of the tour came down to the final over, 17 to win from six balls with MS Dhoni on strike – just the sort of equation the Edgbaston crowd, filled with India fans, might have asked for if they had been handed a questionnaire at the gates. Dhoni clubbed a six off the first ball and brought it down to five off two, before refusing a single off the penultimate ball.
Taking the single would have meant Ambati Rayudu could have won it with a last-ball four. But Dhoni is the sort of batsman who backs himself to hit the last ball for six. The pressure was on Chris Woakes, and he produced a slower ball that wasn’t full enough to hit down the ground. Having to manufacture all the power himself, Dhoni heaved, didn’t connect cleanly, and it rolled down to Moeen Ali, sweeping up on the leg-side boundary.
It was only appropriate that the slower ball won England the match, since it had been an essential ingredient in their death-overs fightback, which began just as India seemed to be cruising. Virat Kohli, having failed to cross 40 across 14 innings in the Tests and ODIs, finally made a half-century – his fourth in a row in T20 chases – and it looked while he was in like being a fourth successive match-winning fifty. Eoin Morgan’s 31-ball 71 had powered England to 180, and it was beginning to look inadequate.
When Kohli holed out looking to hook Steven Finn, the equation still seemed to be in India’s favour: 50 to get from 34 balls. But James Tredwell bowled a tight 16th over, and Harry Gurney produced a peach of a yorker to bowl Suresh Raina, who had put on 42 with Kohli, and Ravindra Jadeja ran himself out going for a non-existent second run. India were panicking, Dhoni and Rayudu struggled to time the ball, and England won the game by winning the death-overs mini-contest.
England had smashed 81 in their last five overs, with Morgan clearing his front leg and launching the ball over the ropes seven times. Karn Sharma, who had bowled three tight overs on debut, bowled too short in his last over and went for 17. Mohammed Shami, whose yorkers had been inch-perfect in the final ODI, failed to land them and went for 29 in two overs. Mohit Sharma, serving a series of full-tosses, bowled the most expensive over of the innings, conceding 21 in the 19th.
Till that late onslaught, it looked as if England might not take full toll of friendly batting conditions and shortened boundaries. They began with a 17-run over – and Jason Roy got off the mark in international cricket with a reverse-swept four off R Ashwin – but they lost wickets at just the wrong moments. Roy and Moeen Ali went early, popping soft catches to cover, and Alex Hales and Joe Root holed out just when they were looking dangerous.
At the end of the 15th over, England’s run-rate had come down to 6.60, with Root, Morgan and Jos Buttler having failed to find the boundary even once in the previous 25 balls. And then Morgan got into gear. He smacked the first ball of the 16th over back past the bowler, Ravindra Jadeja, for four, and swatted the next ball over wide long-on for six. The start of the last five overs seemed to have flicked a switch in Morgan’s mind.
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