India’s captain Virat Kohli celebrates with his team-mates after winning their fourth Twenty20 match against England in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Associated Press
India will look to build on the confidence they gained in defending a target in the fourth T20I and win the fifth and final match at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Saturday to clinch the series.
The hosts have levelled the series from a match down twice. They lost the first and the third matches, but won the second and fourth matches. The latest victory on Thursday came while defending a target of 186 runs.
The first three matches went in favour of teams chasing and it seemed like England would win Thursday’s game when they put India in and got the early wicket of Rohit Sharma. However, Suryakumar Yadav, playing his first innings in international cricket, hit a quick half-century to put India on track.
In each of India’s wins, one of the two Mumbai Indians’ stars -- Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar, has clicked with the big-hitting and caught England by surprise.
The pitch given for the fourth T20I was a black soil surface, which had lesser pace than the one used for the third T20I. The pitch for the final match is also likely to be a black soil wicket and could see plenty of runs.
Captain Virat Kohli had praised the surface dished out for the fourth match. “The pitch was better than any other game,” said Kohli after the game.
India’s fast bowlers’ change in pace has played a crucial role in both their wins. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur made use of it to trouble the hard-hitting English batsmen.
In the second T20I, the change in pace helped India keep England to a below-par total batting first. In the fourth T20I, when England, powered by Ben Stokes’s big-hitting, looked set to chase a massive target, change in pace again brought India back into the game.
For England, the key has been keeping the Indian top-order at bay in both matches they have won. However, their bowlers have faltered whenever someone from the top order like Kishan or a Suryakumar has clicked.
England welcome the pressure, says Stokes: Stokes says England welcome the pressure of Saturday’s ‘final’ as they seek to become battle-hardened for this year’s Twenty20 World Cup.
“In an ideal world we would have loved to have gone into the next game having won the series and it sounds weird saying it, but we got a positive out of losing,” said Stokes, after England fell eight runs short.
“We go into the next game with a huge amount of pressure on our shoulders as a team because whoever wins that game wins the series. It’s a final.”
Saturday’s match will again be in an empty stadium in Ahmedabad because of rising coronavirus numbers in India. But despite the lack of atmosphere, Stokes said it was still a good test for England.
“That’s great for us as a team, especially with a T20 World Cup coming up,” said Stokes.
“The more pressure situations we are put into as team, the better we’ll be for it. We want to win and we want to make a habit of winning.”
India will host the showpiece event for cricket’s shortest format in October-November. Stokes said England’s failure had been not having a leading batsmen to attack India’s bowlers in the final overs.
“One of us had to be there at the end. It’s always frustrating getting out and even more when you feel you’ve got the game in your hands,” said the all-rounder.
Suryakumar named for England ODIs: India’s latest Twenty20 hero Suryakumar was named in the one-day squad on Friday for three games against England scheduled to be held behind closed doors in the coronavirus hotspot of Pune.
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Chakravarthy, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Rahul Tewatia, T. Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur.
Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, Mark Wood.