2nd T20I: Ishan Kishan hits big on debut, Virat Kohli shines too as India level series
- India vs England: Led by brilliant half-centuries from captain Virat Kohli and debutant Ishan Kishan, India made a roaring comeback to win the second T20I against England by seven wickets.
The anticipation had started building up much before the toss. On one corner of the Narendra Modi Stadium here, two men basked in being the centre of attention in the Indian team huddle. They were Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
It was a special occasion for both. For, while the 30-year-old Yadav had endured a longer than usual wait for his first international cap, the 22-year-old Kishan too had undergone a tumultuous journey, seemingly losing his way before finding his feet at IPL 2020. At that tournament, Yadav and Kishan had together won the title for MI. Now, together they made their debuts for India.
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After England set a 165-run target, Kishan, replacing a fellow left-handed opener in Shikhar Dhawan, took his first step in the senior set-up with a flick off the pads against Jofra Archer; the ball raced to the fine leg boundary.
That step soon turned into a big stride as Kishan completed his half-century in just 28 balls, with two back-to-back sixes – the first one against a dipper was dispatched over mid-wicket while the other was tonked over long on. Kishan hit two more sixes and five fours earlier as it turned out to be a fruitful first day in the blue of India.
Yadav, for his part, did not get to bat but took a difficult catch of Jonny Bairstow, where he ran from deep mid-wicket, almost spilled the white ball under the floodlights, only to somehow hang on to it with dear life. That’s how he made his presence felt.
While the debutants played their part, captain Virat Kohli was the real boss of the occasion with 73 runs (he now has the most fifty-plus scores in T20Is) as India reached the target with 13 balls to spare. The five-match series in Ahmedabad is now level at 1-1.
It must have been a pleasing experience for Kohli on Sunday, as his game plan to turn on the aggressive intent in his T20I batting line-up worked in the second game. It had faltered in the first T20I, but bringing in new blood in Yadav and Kishan certainly did the trick in Round 2. And as far as Kishan is concerned, he made an immediate impact.
After Rahul departed in the first over with the scoreboard reading 0, in came Kohli. On a pitch with variable pace, even a 165-run target looked tricky. Kohli initially played the role of the aggressor even as Kishan took his time, despite scoring a boundary off his very first delivery. But when he too joined the party, the whole stadium danced to his tunes. And it was Tom Curran who bore the brunt of it in the sixth over.
Off the first ball, Kishan used his powerful arms to send the ball flying over long on and into the stands. Two balls later, against a wide delivery, Kishan freed his hands again to send the ball through covers. And finally, off the last ball he sent one behind square. Those three strikes meant that India had reached a team score of 50 in the powerplay overs.
Next up was Ben Stokes. The England allrounder had already been edged over third man for a massive six by Kohli. So, when he banged in a short ball, Kishan muscled it over deep square leg. Kishan’s pace rose after that and culminated in the two huge sixes in the 10th over by Rashid. His personal fifty up, the debutant finally fell while attempting a reverse sweep in the same over but by then India were 94/2. Kohli was around to ensure there were no more hiccups.
While the debutants had every reason to stay in the limelight with a smooth chase, the legwork of India’s win was built on disciplined bowling. On a two-paced wicket, as England rode on the unconventional reverse sweeps and scoops from the likes Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan, the Indian bowlers stuck to their strategies from start to end. That meant that from 129/4 in 15 overs, the visitors could only reach 164/6 in 20 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, playing his first international series since December 2019, varied his pace and hit his yorkers to deny England almost single-handedly. He gave away just 28 in his four overs. Shardul Thakur used cross-seam deliveries, varied his pace and returned with figures of 2/29 from four overs, incidentally, identical to Washington Sundar’s figures. Meanwhile, Hardik Pandya bowled his full quota of overs for the first time since September – always a heartening sign for the Indian team.
Kumar skidded one towards the leg-side against Jos Buttler to trap him in front of the wicket off the third ball of the innings. But a lengthy England batting order meant that the tremors of that early shock hardly made an impact.
Jason Roy, Dawid Malan and England captain Eoin Morgan found the gaps as the visitors maintained a healthy run rate of over eight an over till the halfway mark. But just when it seemed they would change gears and find faster runs, the hosts’ bowlers struck. In the last six overs, England’s batsmen could send the ball across the ropes only four times.