|Fifth Twenty20, Ahmedabad|
|India 224-2 (20 Over): Kohli 80* (52), Rohit 64 (34)|
|England 188-8 (20 overs): Malan 68 (46); Bhuvneshwar 2-15|
|India wins by 36 runs|
England lost the crucial match in the Twenty20 series to an Indian team who took a masterclass in batting in Ahmedabad with a remarkable bowling performance.
Virat Kohli kept India in the match with 80 in 52 balls, allowing Rohit Sharma (64 in 34 balls), Hardik Pandya (39 in 17 balls) and Suryakumar Yadav (32 in 17 balls) to flame around him.
The hosts scored the most T20 runs against England with 224-2 and pushed the tourists to second place in the match in no time.
They were on their way to 127-1 after 12 overs until Bhuvneshwar Kumar played a brilliant 13, conceded three runs and decisively surprised Jos Buttler at long-off for 52.
David Malan stayed on, but when he was beaten by the impressive Shardul Thakur for 68, 83 in the last five overs was a big challenge.
England finished on 188-8 and lost by 36 runs, while India won the series 3-2.
The three-day one-day internationals in Pune will begin on Tuesday.
England wanted to use this series as a test for the World Cup, and the deciding match would be their biggest challenge.
After the Indian attack, Jason Roy was bowled by Bhuvneshwar on the second ball of the innings, after which Malan came in with a fluency that had been lacking in the previous four matches.
Buttler was generally strong, and with Malan managing and defending, their 130 partnership led England in the chase.
However, on a crowded field, it was Bhuvneshwar’s performance that made the difference. Although he didn’t have much pace, he kept his cool with precision and guile, producing incredible figures of 2-15 from his four overs.
Thakur supported his own change of pace. At the time of Buttler’s loss, England had gone 22 deliveries without finding a boundary.
Jonny Bairstow, Malan and John Morgan fell for two runs in seven deliveries, all on slow balls, and England were stopped.
Kohli’s decision to open with Rohit brought together two of India’s best players with a devastating and exciting result.
The lethargic Rohit played beautifully, controlling and shooting with incredible power. Ben Stokes’ first mistake was to cut off the inside of a slow ball on the stumps.
The stand with the first 94 wickets lasted just nine overs, but England had no respite and Suryakumar hit two stunning loft sixes off Adil Rashid on the second and third balls he was given.
Kohli was the first to score runs. He made just 25 off the first 23 balls and 55 off the next 29. He was joined by Hardick, who forced a boundary with his back foot.
England were almost helpless against this destruction on a beautiful ground, but at times lacked variety in their bowling.
Still, Chris Jordan’s moment of genius at the release of Suryakumar will be remembered for a long time. On his way to the long-on boundary, he held Suryakumar at waist height in his right hand and the catch was complete when Jordan befriended Roy, who could only laugh in disbelief.
English batsman David Malan became the fastest batsman to make 1000 international T20 runs in 24 innings.
And the World Cup?
England were keen to stress the importance of the series, with seven months to go before the World Cup in India.
Morgan even said this might be the last time he puts together his first team before the team is named for this tournament.
England learned that Woods’ speed is a big advantage on the powerplay, while Malan’s low-scoring run reminded them why he is considered the best batsman in the world.
The tourists only won when they were batting second and the quality of their bowling reserves is in question. Jordan and Sam Curran struggled, while Moeen Ali was never on the field.
There’s also the suspicion that they can’t find a better way to use Stokes in the shortest possible format.
But England’s firepower means it will always be a threat. India are likely to go into the World Cup as favourites, but England should always be feared.
All the best for England
Captain Eoin Morgan of England: Very productive. Playing against a strong Indian team in these conditions was fantastic. Ideally we would like to play on bigger and bigger wickets to gain this experience. Regardless of the result, we strive for growth and improvement. We played very good cricket. There are many positives to build on.
England T20 bowler Timal Mills: It was a great Indian performance. They held their ground while Butler and Malan flew. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, third in line, was the one who finally tipped the scales in India’s favour.
Captain Vorat Kohli of India: It was a complete game for us. We completely outplayed our opponent. The fact that Rishabh and Shreyas didn’t get a chance to strike and still managed to hit 230 is a testament to how well we handled the blows.
I have played in many different positions in the past, but now I feel like we have a solid midfield. It is now a case of the top two players getting the maximum balls in T20 cricket. I would love to be Rohit’s partner up there.
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