Out in the stands, a couple of fans who had dropped in from Oxford, about hour-and-a-half from here by train, felt this came way too late. They almost laughed off Virat Kohli’s knock on Sunday. They had waited the entire summer.
The enormity of the failure on this tour weighed heavily on the batsman himself. Just after getting to his fifty, his first international one on this tour, he barely raised his bat. First, he wouldn’t lift it, but as the cheers gained momentum, he raised it just enough to oblige the crowds.
The shot immediately after Virat got to his fifty probably explains the value that should be given to this half-century in a format where bowlers can’t plot dismissals, and are at the batsmen’s mercy. It was an inside edge that went to fine leg as Virat made room to parry the ball away.
The delirious fans though feasted over it and India’s charge towards a challenging England total that was being orchestrated by Virat and Shikhar Dhawan.
Early in his innings, he picked up balls from the off and hammered them for boundaries. They were delightful shots to set the stands alight. There was no James Anderson and the ball wasn’t moving and testing.
England, who seem to render step-motherly treatment to the shorter formats, were expected to be brushed aside in this one-off T20 International by India, who are more used to Twenty20 cricket.
But they managed to put it across by three runs for their first T20I win over India since 2009.
India fielded three spinners and adding the two part-timers in Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu, who didn’t bowl, they had as many as five of them and just two seamers. There was nothing in the track to vindicate the move but as Alex Hales and Joe Root fell in the middle overs, the move seemed right.
England T20I captain Eoin Morgan then stepped on the gas and hammered a 31-ball 71, especially the pacemen, and England reached a total from where they could apply the pressure.
Things were on track for India until they lost Virat, Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, leaving Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu to get 17 off the final over.
India needed five off two and Dhoni came up with yet another decision that is going to set tongues wagging again. He could manage to pull it to a fielder at the boundary, but refused to take a single.