India in England: Only Twenty20

India in England: Only Twenty20

Champion vs. Champion

 

India put their miserable Test series behind them with two wins over English county sides, as they switched gears into the shortest format of the game. They still had to deal with the loss of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, the injuries paving the way for the debuts of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid, making his first (and last) international Twenty20 appearance at the age of 38 and 23,540 international runs to his name. England themselves blooded two new players, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales, as the reigning Twenty20 World Champions and World Cup champions went head to head.

 

 

 

Winning the toss, India made a good start, with Parthiv Patel and Rahane scoring quickly before Jade Dernbach removed Patel for just 10. Rahul Dravid made a scratchy start to his only international Twenty20 innings, but Rahane played fluently and confidently. He was good enough to make a half-century on debut for India, and after crawling to 10* of 14 balls, Dravid finally found his rhythm with three consecutive 6s off a hapless Samit Patel. The 22-run over brought up India's 100 at good clip, but then it was England's turn to strike back.

 

First, Dravid's late-start cameo came to an end when he was out to Ravi Bopara for an entertaining 31 (104/2). Then Stuart Broad removed Rahane for a well-made half-century on debut (61) and Virat Kohli in the same over. Rohit Sharma was stumped off Graeme Swann, and India's strong momentum of 101/1 came crashing down at 117/5. Suresh Raina came good after a poor Test series, getting things moving with big boundaries (including two consecutive 6s off Tim Bresnan). India's 150 came up, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin were dismissed in the same over to halt their progress again. Raina's important knock came to an end for 33, and Jade Dernbach claimed his best figures in Twenty20 internationals - 4/22 - as India were all out for a challenging, but disappointing 165.

 

If England went into the innings break on a high, they were quickly brought back down to Earth just the second ball of their chase, as Praveen Kumar had debutante Alex Hayes LBW with no runs on the board. Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter carefully reconstructed the innings, finally collectively blasting Munaf Patel for 17 runs in an over to get the chase on track. Patel struck back to remove Kieswetter, and Virat Kohli got Pietersen with his first ball for a good 33, as the two quick wickets brought India back into the game at 60/3.

 

Ravi Bopara struggled to get going, but Eoin Morgan blasted England ahead with 4, 4 and 6 off Rohit Sharma. Morgan's innovative and adaptive strokeplay kept England in the hunt, taking the hosts over 100. They needed just 32 off 30 when he was gone to a tight catch off Munaf Patel. Initially standing his ground, Morgan eventually had to leave for a game-changing 49, and India clawed back ahead as neither Bopara or Samit Patel found their rhythm.

 

Crucially, they kept their wickets, and when the final over started with 10 runs to get, Patel hit Vinay Kumar for three consecutive fours to give England the win by 6 wickets.

 

So India's inability to beat England - or indeed, bat out their innings - continues into the Twenty20 arena. Rahul Dravid gave them an unlikely boost, his three consecutive 6s off Samit Patel being the difference between a challenging score and a mediocre one. It was Patel who had the last laugh, hitting the winning walk-off hat-trick of boundaries, but the victory was set up by Jade Dernbach's canny and precise bowling, as well as Eoin Morgan's nerveless 49. Just how good is Morgan, really? All credit to Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss, but Morgan has been such a pivotal player in this English renaissance.

 

Meanwhile, India will have to wait until the ODI series begins on Saturday to see if they can actually beat England. They tested them in this Twenty20, but their World Cup win in Mumbai seems a long, long time ago.

 

India: 165 all out (Ajinkya Rahane 61, Jade Dernbach 3.4-0-22-4) in 19.4 overs at 8.38 runs an over

England: 164/4 (Eoin Morgan 49, Munaf Patel 4-0-25-2) in 19.3 overs at 8.66 runs an over

England win by 6 wickets

Man of the Match: Jade Dernbach