England’s cricketers will leave India defeated on every front after collapsing spectacularly in the balmy Bengaluru air, losing eight wickets for eight runs from a position of strength to go down by 75 runs in the final T20 international. The result means India win the series 2-1 to go alongside victories in the one-day and Test series across a trying two-legged winter tour.
The collapse at the end will live long in the memory, a collective spasm of panic that turned a tight chase into a thrashing. But England’s late middle order had been left with no choice but to hit wildly as the innings stagnated as they sought 203 to win. The leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, playing on his home IPL ground, finished with the astonishing figures of six for 25 as England flailed, unable to pick his googly, unable to find any other way to respond to the pressure of the occasion.
In reality the game turned in the guts of their innings as Joe Root batted too slowly, chewing up 37 balls for his 42 as wickets were lost around him to some careless shots and the weight of the chase simply became too much.
The key over was bowled by Amit Mishra, who completed a four-over spell of skill and accuracy to keep England to three runs off the 13th over. From there India had the best “death” bowler on either team, Jasprit Bumrah, with three overs left to bowl. It was hit or bust for the last knockings of this tour; and bust it was, the end coming in a dizzying rush.
For much of the night this had been a wild bare-knuckle brawl of a match that kept barrelling on without taking a breath. The promised high-scoring contest did, indeed, materialise on this tight ground and India’s 202, an inning of 12 sixes and not a lot of quick singles, left England needing their third highest total batting second in T20s to win the series, though all stats in this form of the game are a mutable, infant science.
They began with some intent. Jason Roy got things under way with an astonishing reverse slogged six off Chahal’s first ball. Sam Billings was out caught ballooning one up off his boot bringing Root to the crease. It was angsty cricket for a while as England thrashed and the Chinnaswamy roared and wailed at the hilarity of it all.
With England 55 for one at the end of the powerplay the game was still wide open. Roy threw his wicket away with a horrendous, static swipe against the spin. It might have been a good moment to send in Jos Buttler, England’s most explosive player, with something to play for but Eoin Morgan batted with energy and, with 10 overs gone, England were only a little behind at 86 for two.
Morgan began to open up, lifting Suresh Raina for two lofted sixes to bring up the hundred, then flipping another over square-leg as 22 came from the 12th over. After Mishra had tightened the screw Morgan holed out a little desperately to deep square-leg. Root went lbw to Chahal. It felt like a moment of do-or-die and so it proved, five of the last six wickets coming from mistimed airborne swipes.
Earlier England had won the toss as dusk fell and decided to chase. Liam Plunkett came in for Liam Dawson and the prodigy Rishabh Pant made his debut for India.
The Chinnaswamy is a claustrophobic, steeply-tiered circular noise funnel but it fell silent seven balls into the match as Virat Kohli was run out in extraordinary circumstances, dropping the ball at his feet and finding himself undone as he dithered by some wonderfully decisive athleticism from Chris Jordan.
Tymal Mills kept pounding in, hitting 93mph straight away and sending one fizzing past KL Rahul’s nose as he swung wildly. India’s counterpunch came with 14 from Plunkett’s first over. Suresh Raina flipped some poor leg-side stuff from Jordan for a pair of huge steepling sixes. Moeen Ali appeared and was immediately hit over long-off and on to the press-box roof by Rahul, a vast hit that bounced off the tiles and over the stand.
The ground erupted with booming IPL-soundtrack music, the crowd howled and the ball zipped like a puck on ice across this hard manicured surface. Adil Rashid contrived to drop Raina off his own bowling, a hard slap back at him he really should have caught. Raina spanked one into the bleachers to go to an elegant, rakish fifty off 39 balls. And at 105 for two in the 12th over the perimeter of this lime green oval seemed to shrink with every ball launched into the dark brown Bengaluru sky.
Raina skied a Plunkett slower ball, bringing Yuvraj Singh to the crease, a man who likes a flat pitch and a short boundary. MS Dhoni’s fifty came up off 32 balls, his first in 76 T20 internationals, at which point Yuvraj began to move. Jordan was glided for three effortless straight sixes over mid-on in an over that went for 24, the last an extraordinary flat bunted hit off a yorker length. Yuvraj was out for 27 off nine balls, expertly deceived by a 61mph slower ball from Mills, and India closed on a breathless, never quite full-throttle 201 for six. It felt like a par score. England made it into a great deal more.