Virat Kohli’s brilliance wasn’t good enough to paper over an otherwise inept Indian batting performance as England humbled the hosts by eight wickets in the third T20 International to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Eoin Morgan unleashed his fast bowlers Mark Wood (3/31) and Chris Jordan (2/35) to restrict the hosts for 156 for 6, which the visitors surpassed easily in 18.2 overs, riding on Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 83 off 52 balls. Skipper Kohli had mistakenly said at the toss that his team led 2-1 but Morgan, in his 100th T20 International appearance, made sure that opposite happened.
Buttler showed his mastery in white ball format after Kohli single-handedly carried the team to a reasonable score with an unbeaten 77 off 46 balls.
Buttler in the Powerplay pounced on Shardul Thakur and Yuzvendra Chahal in successive overs and England were never in danger of falling behind the run-rate after that.
He played the pacers and spinners with comforting ease, playing reverse slog sweeps interspersed between the lofted straight hits into the empty stands.
In all, Buttler hit five fours and four sixes. More than the Buttler’s blade, the difference between two sides was the sheer pace generated by England pacers after Morgan won another good toss.
Mark Wood rocked the Indian top order during the Powerplay overs and even Kohli’s magnificence wasn’t good enough to save the night for the ‘Men In Blue’.
Wood’s thunderbolts at 90 plus miles per hour found the younger Indian batsmen in considerable discomfort. He didn’t do anything extra but bowled fast and straight, mixing the well disguised short pitched stuff to get them into a tangle.
Save Kohli, other Indian youngsters found it difficult to put bat to ball as pace and bounce off the pitch worked wonders for English speed merchants.
The Indian skipper with his near perfect technique fought fire with fire, playing pull shots and the lofted hits, shuffling towards leg stump to make room for himself.
He was lucky when his mis-timed flick off a short ball from Jofra Archer fetched him a six but then the second flick off Chris Jordan was perfectly dispatched to the longest corner for a maximum.
But the shot of the night was a straight six off Wood, which made the bowler take his time to finish the over.
Not to forget the shape which he was in while executing a ramp shot off Archer.
His partnership with Hardik Pandya (17 off 15 balls) fetched 70 runs off just 5.3 overs but it was all about Kohli for the better part as the Baroda all-rounder was struggling to time the ball.
But others were not so lucky with Wood making life miserable for them. KL Rahul (0) was once again in the midst of a forgettable patch where all the good deliveries were being earmarked for him.
Wood bowled one at 91 mph, that pitched on length and nipped back enough to breach through the opener’s defence before he could bring his bat down.
Rohit Sharma (15 off 17 balls) was playing his first game of the series and while he managed to read Adil Rashid’s googlies well, Wood’s well directed bouncer got him as he was holed out in the deep.
Ishan Kishan (4), after a dream debut, got a hostile welcome from Wood, who managed to soften the Jharkhand dasher.
The result was Chris Jordan extracting extra bounce and the ill-timed pull shot bringing Kishan’s downfall as the hosts looked in complete disarray.
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