Chasing 181 runs, India lost the only T20I of the tour against England by three runs at Edgbaston. A blistering 31-ball 71 by the England T20I captain Eoin Morgan helped the hosts to a competitive total after opting to bat first. This after Alex Hales had got England off to a good start with a quick-fire 40. In a late flourish, the hosts accumulated 81 runs off the last five overs to set the visitors a stiff target. (Also Read: Stats Highlights: Only T20I - England v India, Birmingham)
Virat Kohli (66 off 41) then kept India in reckoning with two crucial partnerships with Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina. But the runs conceded in the last quarter of the England innings and the tight bowling by the host’s bowlers kept the pressure on India. Although MS Dhoni made a match of it as he took India within sniffing distance of the target, he couldn’t take the team across the line in the nerve-wracking last over.
Earlier, Ravichandran Ashwin opened the bowling after England opted to bat and was milked for 17 runs by debutant Jason Roy and Hales to get the hosts off to a flying start. Mohammed Shami who then replaced the spinner in the third over, gave India their first breakthrough by ending the opening stand for 26. Ajinkya Rahane at cover took the catch to send back Roy. In the next over, Moeen Ali offered Rahane another catch, this time off Mohit Sharma and returned for naught.
Joe Root then joined Hales in the middle and got off the mark with a boundary through mid-wicket. While he looked to take on the bowling, his skier off Shami was dropped by Ashwin at short fine-leg. Scoring at over seven runs an over, the pair had added 48 runs until the opener departed. Once again it was the safe hands of Rahane who ran in and took the catch diving forward to send back the on-song Hales for 40.
Eoin Morgan who replaced him in the middle, took over from the opener. He clobbered the Indian bowling to keep the momentum going. After opening his account with a six over mid-wicket off Ashwin, Morgan dominated the bowling even as he lost partners at the other end.
MS Dhoni rotating his bowlers, brought back Karn Sharma for his second over and the debutant claimed the key wicket off Root. A superb diving catch by Ambati Rayudu after the middle-order bat had top-edged the leg-spinner left the hosts on 85/4.
Morgan though continued his run fest as Joss Buttler played the supporting role. With the partnership on 45, the wicketkeeper-batsman walked back for 10; caught at deep mid-wicket by Rayudu off Shami. Morgan meanwhile kept finding the fence and clearing it with ease. After hitting the pacer straight for six he brought up his fifty with two on the on-side. In the penultimate over he smashed Mohit for two sixes and a boundary to claim 21 runs off it with Ravi Bopara at the other end. However, with four balls left, the England captain was caught by Rahane at long-off off Shami.
But there was no relief for the visitors as Bopara smashed the pacer for two boundaries and lodged him into the crowd to help pick 15 runs from the over. England were denied a single off the last ball as Dhoni ran Chris Woakes out and England finished with 180/7.
India’s start was a stark contrast to England’s. After a quiet first over, Rahane swept Ali for six but was bowled off the next ball. With India on 10/1, Virat Kohli took guard opposite Shikhar Dhawan. A bit later, the No.3 bat who has had a quiet tour, hit Woakes for three successive boundaries. The pair took India to India to 53/1 at the end of the powerplay as they kept up with the asking rate. The left-hand opener who had found his nick in the fourth ODI took on the bowlers and cleared the ropes as they carried the innings forward.
With a 79-run partnership they kept the chase on course. The flourishing partnership ended with Dhawan who was looking to take another swing at Woakes found his bails toppled.
With the match hanging in balance, Suresh Raina joined Kohli at the crease. With two runs to mid-wicket, Kohli brought up his first fifty of the tour as he took India closer to the target. Back amongst the runs, Kohli milked the hosts’ attack for runs. However a miscued shot off Steven Finn by the top-order batsman resulted in him being caught at deep square-leg for 66.
With 50 runs required off 34 balls, Dhoni joined forces with Raina to take India to the target. Bowling judiciously and varying the length, the England bowlers denied the visitors the big hits. Harry Gurney provided his team with a crucial wicket by disrupting Raina’s woodwork with a yorker.
A risky boundary by Ravindra Jadeja kept India in the fray even as the required run-rate kept crawling up. Couple of balls later, looking to sneak in a second run, the left-hand batsman was run-out.
The Indian captain then looked to close in on the target with Ambati Rayudu. With 17 runs required of six balls, Dhoni lofted Woakes over square-leg and into the stands for six. With two quick and risky runs he kept strike and found the ropes with a mistimed shot. With five required off two balls he refused a single and kept strike. The Indian captain couldn’t clear the ropes in the next ball as Woakes bowled a slower one only to find the fielder at deep square leg. England as a result won the match by three runs.
England 180 for 7 (Morgan 71, Shami 3-38) beat India 177 for 5 (Kohli 66, Dhoni 27*) by three runs
Man of the match: Eoin Morgan for his swashbuckling 71 off 31 balls
Man of the Match is Eoin Morgan for his superb batting, the best England have seen from him in a long while. "Throughout the whole game the guys held their nerve very well," Morgan says. "We got to a good score and then the bowler's were exceptional. There's little margin for error when Dhoni's at the crease but they were great. The short ball suited conditions. We felt the full ball was easy hit. The wicket played pretty well, to get up to 180 was really good. I've gone through some tough times with the bat and come through them before but it was nice to get a get a few today."
Losing captain MS Dhoni: "In the last over, I missed at least two I could have hit over the boundary, it was a difficult task and one of those days when it didn't go our way. I thought I'm middling it I have a good chance but it didn't pay off. Overall I thought the chase was good but we probably gave away too many runs in the latter overs but we bowled well in the middle. Shami is someone who does bowl yorkers but isn't consistent. But 180 was a score we should have got. There were quite a few excellent catches taken and that was the reason we kept them to 180. Overall it's a good tour for us, we came back strongly in the ODIs."