England ensured it will be a merry Christmas indeed for them after squaring the two-match T20 series 1-1 with a thrilling last-ball win at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. England skipper Eoin Morgan led from the front with a brilliant unbeaten 49 off 26 balls as the visitors chased down the 178-run target off the final ball of the match and with six wickets in hand.
Yuvraj Singh, who registered his best figures in T20 Internationals with 3-17, bettering his 3-19 in the previous match, saw his effort go in vain as Morgan smacked pacer Ashok Dinda for a six off the final delivery with England needing just three runs to win. With nine to get off the final over, Dinda began well, ensuring Morgan and Joseph Buttler (15) managed just four singles and two off the first five deliveries.
Incidentally, England had squared the 2001-02 ODI series 3-3 at the same venue by snatching a thrilling five-run win. Then England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff celebrated wildly running around the stadium waving his shirt. On Saturday though India suffered due to some sloppy fielding, and poor bowling by leggie Piyush Chawla (0-31) and pacer Parvinder Awana (0-42) in particular.
Once again, England openers Michael Lumb and Alex Hales started off in emphatic fashion, cracking 62 in the Powerplay (six overs). Left-handed batsman Lumb (50 off 34 balls with six fours two sixes) wreaked havoc much to the displeasure of the Wankhede supporters.
When nothing worked
When it seemed nothing was working for India, Yuvraj was tossed the ball by skipper Dhoni in the ninth over. And the all-rounder did not let the team down as he foxed Lumb out stumped for 50. The crowd went berserk when Yuvraj struck again in his second over trapping Luke Wright leg before for five.
England didn’t lose a wicket in Yuvraj’s third over, but Alex Hales’ (42) slog sweep off Yuvraj’s fourth over landed straight into Dinda’s hands at backward square. Morgan however, continued the good work to see his team through to victory. Earlier, put into bat after losing the toss, India saw Ajinkya Rahane perish for just three on the fifth ball of the second over as a huge outside edge flew straight to Joe Root at third man. With Gambhir not going for his shots, Virat Kohli decided to be the entertainer of the night.
After playing the first over calmly, the Delhi dasher exploded with two consecutive fours off Jade Dernbach’s second over. He followed it up with three boundaries off Luke Wright’s first over, accumulating 20 runs off the sixth over. But just as he was looking set for a big one, he was adjudged leg before off Stuart Meaker for 38. An over later, Yuvraj departed for four, trying to pull but only managing to find Root at long on. Gambhir followed, top-edging Wright to Tim Bresnan at third man for 17. Local lad Rohit Sharma, who was included in place of Ravindra Jadeja, then missed a straight one and was bowled by James Tredwell for 24.
India’s last batting pair of Dhoni and Suresh Raina however got the crowd on their feet putting on 60 off just 27 balls for the sixth wicket. Mumbaikars love Dhoni especially after he sealed the 2011 World Cup with an iconic six, and chants of ‘Dho-ni... Dho-ni’ grew louder. Raina, who remained unbeaten on 35 off 24 balls took 20 runs (three fours & a six) off the 17th over by Meaker, while Dhoni smacked Dernbach for 18 runs in the 18th over. Dhoni (38 off 18 balls with three fours & two sixes) perished in the penultimate over when he hit a Bresnan delivery straight to Samit Patel at midwicket.
Brief scores: India 177-8 (V Kohli 38, MS Dhoni 38, S Raina not out 35; Jade Dernbach 2-37, Luke Wright 2-38) lost to England 181-4 (M Lumb 50, Eoin Morgan 49 not out, A Hales 42; Yuvraj 3-17) by six wickets