Alex Hales fifty powers England to series-levelling win vs India in Cardiff T20
All the work England had done ahead of the second Twenty20 International, even bringing out the bowling machine Merlyn to help them prepare against the Indian spinners paid off as they did well to deny the duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, restricting their effectiveness to one wicket between them in the second Twenty20 International at the Sophia Gardens on Friday. (INDIA vs ENGLAND 2nd T20I HIGHLIGHTS)
Hales, who had a forgettable outing at Manchester, proved the unlikely hero for England, taking them home with five wickets to spare with an unbeaten half-century (58 not out off 41 balls). He kept the innings together while batting sensibly against the spinners and coming up with the big hits when needed to help England square the series with a five-wicket win. (INDIA vs ENGLAND 2nd T20I SCORECARD)
With 12 needed off the last over, Hales released the pressure with a six off the first ball bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and followed it up with a boundary.
The Indian pace attack, however, will be proud of their performance as their spinners were neutralised. Bhuvneshwar gave nothing away, conceding just seven runs in his first three overs before Hales took him on. Umesh Yadav again made early inroads and Hardik Pandya provided breakthroughs at crucial junctures.
The highlight of the bowling show was the 18th over bowled by Bhuvneshwar, who got the dangerous Jonny Bairstow off the first ball and then conceded just three.
After a see-saw battle for supremacy, it had all boiled down to 39 off 24 balls with England having six wickets to get them. Kuldeep was entrusted with the responsibility of bowling to Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow.
Bairstow had been out for a golden duck in the first T20I but here he was better prepared. It showed in his strokeplay when he smashed two sixes off Yadav to take 16 runs off the over and bring the equation down to 23 off the last 18 balls.
It meant, England had done their homework well against Kuldeep and the star of the opening win, finished wicketless for 34 runs from four overs.
The battle everyone was waiting for finally began in the seventh over when Kohli waved to Yuzvendra Chahal to start his spell. England had done well to restrict India to 148, and if the visitors were to make inroads into the batting unit, it was going to be through their spin magicians. But, armed with lessons learnt facing the Merlyn machine, the England batsmen measured up to the Indian spin challenge well despite Chahal striking in his first over. But, there was no panic attack in the English ranks this time.
In bowling, England’s decision to stick to their strengths and take India on with their pace paid off. Jake Ball, David Willey and Liam Plunket made the most of a livelier pitch and pinned the Indian top-order down with disciplined length, late movement and bounce.
After losing their top three batsmen for just 22, India never recovered from the poor start. Kohli offered some resistance but was out for 38-ball 47 at the start of the 18th over.