A phenomenal 6-25 from leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal skittled England for just 127, as they attempted to chase down India’s target of 203. It was a crucial contest, with the T20 series scoreline even at 1-1 heading into the final T20 at Bangalore.
In the build-up to the match, the head groundsman said that the pitch would provide a run fest. It lived up to these expectations, but appeared to be offering more for the bowlers in the second innings. Things started well for England, as Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to field on a ground which has historically favoured the chasing team. England made just one change, with Liam Plunkett replacing spinner Liam Dawson. India handed out a cap to 19-year-old Rishabh Pant, who replaced Manish Pandey in the home side’s only change. It promised to be a mouth watering contest and it certainly lived up to the expectations.
England got off to a good start, picking up the crucial wicket of Virat Kohli in just the second over, courtesy of a calamitous run out. However, Suresh Raina was up to the challenge, as India’s veteran hit an impressive 63 off 45 to lay a solid platform for India. When he departed, after slicing Plunkett to cover, India needed to make sure they were able to keep up the momentum provided by him.
A brisk cameo from in-form Yuvraj Singh did the job, as he blasted a quick 27 off 10 to ensure India kept on track to post a big total. In the end, it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni who elevated India to their total of 202. Dhoni hit his maiden T20I fifty, as he surpassed his previous high score of 48. He looked in great touch, hitting five fours and two sixes in the process. Debutant Rishabh Pant didn’t open the batting as everyone was expecting, but instead came in at six and didn’t have much of the strike. He ended up with a solid, unbeaten 5 off 3.
The pick of the English bowlers was probably Tymal Mills who looked threatening with the new ball early on. He was on one of the most economical England bowlers, going at only 7.8 an over and managed to pick up the wicket of Yuvraj. Chris Jordan was unfortunately extremely disappointing today, as he conceded an horrendous 56 runs in just four overs. It was a below par performance for England’s foremost limited overs bowler, as he was sent to all parts of the ground.
It was always going to be an extremely tough chase, but the Chinnaswamy Stadium had seen higher scores chased down before.
England didn’t have too bad a start, despite the loss of Sam Billings for a golden duck in the second over. Jason Roy and Joe Root progressed well, constantly rotating the strike until Roy top-edged off Mishra to the gloves of Dhoni. India started to worry when captain Morgan took off from where Roy left off, and he was in ominous form as he raced to 40 off just 21. Thats when Yuzvendra Chahal intervened. Morgan holed out to Pant at deep-wicket off a slightly more flighted delivery and the very next ball Chahal pinned Root in front in a clear LBW.
This reduced England’s chances to near impossible, but what occurred next was one of the most dramatic collapses in T20 history. England lost a remarkable eight wickets for just eight runs inside three overs. Chahal took three more wickets in his last over, claiming the wicket of Ali, Stokes and Jordan. His figures of 6-25 are the third best ever in T20 history. While this is an extraordinary record, one has to admit that England’s batting was woeful. They needed to be scoring at around 13 an over, and the pressure definitely got to them as players repeatedly holed out attempting to clear the rope. Chahal was supported in this rout by the impressive Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up three wickets for 14 runs in the match.
It was a day to remember for Yuzvendra Chahal who was judged to be Man of the Series as well as Man of the Match. He was especially to be able to pick up his wickets in Bangalore where he plays IPL cricket for the Royal Challengers Bangalore:
“It felt good because I’m playing an India match in Bangalore for the first time,” Chahal says. “It always feels like home. I’ve bowled in the powerplay before in the IPL, and Virat has confidence in me that I can do that. In the start, I plan that batsmen will want to go for their shots because it’s a small ground, so I have a chance for wickets. I bowl a fuller length, so I have a chance for lbws if they miss the sweep and reverse-sweep. Never dreamed I’d get six wickets.”
His captain, Virat Kohli, was equally delighted as he won his first T20 series as captain:
“We lost all three tosses, similar to the Test series as well, and we’ve won all three series. It’s not a bad thing when you have MS Dhoni behind the stumps and experienced guys like Ashu [Ashish Nehra] and Yuvi [Yuvraj Singh]. I’m taking advice from them whenever possible, they’re so intelligent, a lot of credit goes to them. Mishra’s two overs, and that one over from Jordan to Yuvi, that changed the momentum. It pushed us past 200, and that gave us the psychological advantage. Having two legspinners on a dry wicket, we always knew we would get a few chances. Mishy started it, and then Chahal took five wickets in two overs – he knows these conditions, he knows how to bowl here. I have a lot of faith in him, and he plays with a lot of confidence.”
It was a sombre occasion for Eoin Morgan on the other hand, whose side will now leave India trophy less after a brutal few months:
“We made a fatal error in losing two in batsman when we were going so well. Outstanding bowling from Chahal, and India put in a performance worthy of winning the series. We could have done with myself or Joe [Root] getting 70 or 80 but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. It was a beautiful wicket to bat on, very small boundary… We would have taken 190 at the start of the game. Our batting performance was possibly the worst in the last two years, but we won’t necessarily dwell too much into that.”