NAGPUR, Jan. 30: India beat England at their own game by delivering a masterclass on death bowling with the duo of Ashish Nehra (3/28) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/20) combining to defend a modest total in the second T20I of the three-match series to help their side draw level on Sunday. Helped by KL Rahul's well-crafted 71, India put up 144/8 and then restricted England to 139/6 to pull off an epic five-run win at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha.
The foundation of the thrilling finish was laid by old warhorse Nehra who turned the tables by bowling a terrific 17th overs. England needed 32 from 24 before Nehra began the over and he not only prised out the wicket of dangerman Ben Stokes (38) but also plugged the leak of runs, allowing just five in it. His younger protege Bumrah took cue and tightened the noose further by delivering four dot balls in an over from which Jos Buttler and Joe Root could only muster a single and a couple. With two runs needed per ball to seal a series clinching win, Buttler pulled a short delivery to midwicket region for a four and launched the final ball over long-on for a six to cream 16 runs from the Nehra over.
It fell to Bumrah to defend seven in the final over and he came out with flying colours. He trapped Root lbw first ball and then castled Buttler (15) to land the finishing blow. With six needed from the final delivery, Moeen Ali failed to connect as India kept the series alive.
It was Nehra who gave India a head start in the defense by getting rid of both England openers Sam Billings (12) and Jason Roy (10) in one over. When the visitors looked to have recovered from those early blows, Amit Mishra, who replaced Parvez Rasool in the playing XI, struck with the wicket of Eoin Morgan (17), leaving them at 65/3 in 10.1 overs. He could have given India an upperhand had he not overstepped in the same over - Stokes was bowled first ball but replay showed Mishra had bowled a no ball. Stokes ended up with 38 runs and giving India a major scare.
On a wicket where scoring runs wasn't a cakewalk, KL Rahul marked his return to form with a well-crafted 71 but England kept India to a modest total. Chris Jordan starred for the visitors with figures of 3/22 as their bowlers delivered yet another strong performance.
India recovered from early blows thanks largely to Rahul's maiden T20I fifty and his fourth-wicket association with Manish Pandey who contributed 30 runs after Morgan sent them in.
Jordan was in the thick of action early on as he celebrated the big scalp of opposition skipper Virat Kohli. After a miscued four to third man and a close lbw shout turned down, Kohli stepped up with a stunning six over long-off followed by a four through square off Tymal Mills. He had raced to 21 off 14 when Jordan outwitted him with a slower delivery to have him out caught at long-on. India scored 46 runs in the powerplay overs at the cost of one wicket.
England included an extra spinner in Liam Dawson considering the long Jamtha boundaries but it was the pair of Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali who made early inroads with the wickets of Suresh Raina (7) and Yuvraj Singh (4) respectively leaving India at 69/3 in 10.3 overs.
That brought Rahul and Pandey together and they wriggled India out of the testing phase with a 56-run stand. Rahul left behind a series of poor scores in limited-overs cricket to steer the innings cleverly. Having understood that boundaries won't come easy, he resorted to dealing in singles and doubles to keep the scorecard ticking. And when there was an opportunity, he wasn't averse to go for the big shots. He managed to hit two sixes, both coming against spinners.
A single took him to his first half-century in T20Is and then he stepped on the gas pedal with two consecutive fours off Rashid. At the other end, Pandey was holding his ground but failed to find boundaries. With the innings approaching end, he went for the kill. An edge flew past the third man region went for four but then picked out Ben Stokes at deep midwicket to be caught for 71, off Jordan.
With Rahul back in the dugout, the job of scoring quickly fell to a set Pandey who dazzled with a six over long-on boundary but was cleaned up next ball by Tymal Mills for his only wicket of the innings.
India must have expected some late fireworks from MS Dhoni but he was also kept quiet before Jordan castled him off the final delivery for 5 as England allowed just 36 runs in the final five overs with 10 of those coming in the penultimate over.
Brief Scores: India 144/8 (KL Rahul 71, Manish Pandey 20; Chris Jordan 3/22) beatEngland 139/6 (Stokes 38, Root 38; Nehra 3/28, Bumrah 3/20) by five runs(TOI)
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