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Nehra, Bumrah help India nail thriller

Wisden India logo Wisden India 29-01-2017

Wearing black arm-bands as a tribute to Rajesh Sawant, the India Under-19 and India A strength and conditioning trainer who passed away in his sleep on Sunday (January 29) morning, and to Mohammed Shami’s late father, Virat Kohli’s boys produced an inspired bowling performance in front of a packed house at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha to script a five-run win over England in the second Twenty20 International and level the three-match series 1-1.

With England needing 28 runs off 20 balls in their chase of 145 and looking set to seal the series, Ashish Nehra trapped Ben Stokes, who missed a sweep, in front of the wicket for 38. Jasprit Bumrah joined Nehra to concede just two fours and one six in the last five overs and pick up three wickets as Kohli registered his first win as T20I captain.

Full scorecard: India vs England, 2nd T2OI

KL Rahul had marked a return to form with a stylish 71 but India only managed 144 for 8 on being put in by Eoin Morgan. However, with Nehra and Bumrah bowling beautifully at the death, England were restricted to 139 for 6 in reply.

The secret to the success of Nehra and Bumrah in the death overs was the way they banged the ball into a sluggish pitch and mixed up their deliveries to deny the English batsmen any room.

Nehra, who had dismissed Sam Billings and Jason Roy off successive deliveries in the fourth over to start this turnaround, and Bumrah were equally supported by the spin trio of Amit Mishra, brought in for Parveez Rasool, Yuzvendra Chahal and Suresh Raina. Between them, the spinners gave away just 88 runs in their 12 overs, and Mishra had Morgan caught at midwicket with a rare offspiner to end his 43-run stand with Joe Root.

Photos: Virat Kohli's amazing records

Virat Kohli's amazing records

As the chase got tense and the crowd got into the act, Stokes, bowled off a no-ball from Mishra off his first delivery faced, Jos Buttler and Root succumbed to the pressure. 

The victory, though, doesn’t paper over India’s second poor batting show in as many matches. After having played out 41 dot balls in the first game in Kanpur, India failed to score off 36 balls and hit only eight fours and four sixes during their modest tally.

Kohli looked in supreme touch when he hit Tymal Mills for a six and a four off consecutive deliveries, but Chris Jordan deceived him with a slower ball that measured 103kmph. Having committed to his shot, Kohli failed to connect a ball outside offstump to be caught by Liam Dawson, who replaced Liam Plunkett for this game and opened the bowling, at long-on.

Both Raina and Yuvraj Singh looked out of sorts. Raina hoicked Adil Rashid’s googly against the turn to give Jordan an easy catch at deep midwicket, and Yuvraj was put out of his misery by Moeen Ali when he missed a sweep to be trapped in front.

Watch: Never thought would captain India in all three formats — Kohli

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Rahul and Manish Pandey got together to revive the innings, but only Rahul looked fluent during the stand of 56 runs. A cover-drive off Jordan for his first four was as much of a delight as was his six off Dawson over long-on in the 12th over to push the scoring rate.

Jordan returned for his final spell in the 18th over and struck immediately with a slower ball, which Rahul failed to get underneath completely and was caught at midwicket by Stokes for a 46-ball 71. With this innings, Rahul became the third Indian, after Kohli and Rohit Sharma, to make two fifty-plus scores since the beginning of the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh.

Like that trivia, India’s inability to find a solution against England’s slower balls despite knowing what the plan would be was appalling. Pandey picked a Mills slower ball to hit a six, but was bowled off a similar delivery immediately.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the ownership of scoring as much as possible in the final over against Jordan, but managed only two runs before being bowled off the last ball.

India have a lot of questions to answer, but for now they would want to savour their maiden T20I triumph in three attempts in Nagpur. That it came against the odds and while defending a small target was the icing on the cake for Kohli’s boys.

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