Cardiff, July 7: The seasoned Mahendra Singh Dhoni clobbered 22 runs in the final over and lifted India from a precarious 22 for three to 148 for five in testing conditions in the second T20 International against England here today.
Skipper Virat Kohli top-scored with 47 against a much-improved England bowling, but it was Dhoni’s effort that gave India’s total a semblance respectability.
Dhoni remained unbeaten on 32 off 24 balls with the help of five boundaries.
Hoping to recover from a spin badgering, England made one change bringing in pacer Jake Ball ahead in place of spinner Moeen Ali. India were unchanged after taking a 1-0 lead in the series at Manchester.
Put into bat, India didn’t get off to a great start. England used the short-ball tactic to good effect and tied down both Rohit Sharma (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (10) on a surface that offered bounce.
Rohit was the first to go, trying to pull a short delivery after failing to make contact repeatedly. He skied a catch off debutant Jake Ball (1-32) in the second over and was caught behind.
First game’s centurion KL Rahul (6) was in next but didn’t look comfortable at the crease either. The groundsmen left an extra layering of grass on the wicket’s top-surface and English bowlers used it amply.
With the short boundaries, they used short bowling against every top-order batsman. Even an in-form Rahul couldn’t contend with this tactic, thus managing to miss an off-cutter from Liam Plunkett (1-17) in the fifth over and was bowled.
Three balls later, Dhawan was run out in a bizarre manner as he failed to make ground going for a quick single, and lost control of his bat at the same time.
India were reduced to 22-3 in the fifth over and only managed 31-3 in the powerplay overs. It was India’s lowest powerplay total for 27 consecutive T20Is since June 2016 when they scored 29-3 against Zimbabwe in Harare.
Dhawan’s dismissal had brought Suresh Raina (27 off 20 balls) and Kohli together at the crease. Despite his weakness against the short ball, the left-hander did well to help put on 57 runs for the fourth wicket with the Indian skipper.
Perhaps they were helped in this regard with Adil Rashid (1-29) coming on to bowl. Kohli, on 15 not out, survived a chance in the 11th over when he hit the leg spinner to long on only for Jason Roy to drop and push the ball past boundary for a six.
Raina and Kohli brought up their 50 off 38 balls and immediately afterwards the former upped the ante. He started looking for quick runs with his partner holding one end together.
It didn’t work, as Raina was stumped off Rashid in the 13th over. Dhoni then came to the crease and added some quick runs with Kohli.
A highlight of this short partnership was their running between the wickets, with pushes even to the 30-yard circle returning two runs, and they took the score past 100 in the 16th over.
India were in the ascendancy during this phase but it didn’t last long, as Kohli was caught pulling Ball to fine leg as Joe Root held a low catch.
Dhoni and Hardik Pandya (12 not out) then added 32 runs off 17 balls, with 22 runs coming off the last over from Ball.