There is no place that is more synonymous with cricketing carnage than the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. It was here that Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers scored 229 runs in 16 overs at last year’s IPL. It was here in 2013 that Chris Gayle scored a world record 175 not out from 66 balls. But before Wednesday’s match, there had not been a score in excess of 200 in international T20s on the ground. India put that right as they made their way to 202 for six, a total that they reached without too much trouble.
But the damage wasn’t done with the bat in Bengaluru this time, the real chaos was caused by Yuzvendra Chahal who claimed the third best bowling figures in the history of T20 internationals. He finished his four overs with 6 for 25, which in itself is pretty remarkable, but that wasn’t the most extraordinary thing about England’s innings.
The game was in the balance, England were looking pretty good at 119 for two with Joe Root and Eoin Morgan well set in the 14th over. They required around 12 an over, a rate that was tough but very achievable. From there, they lost eight wickets for eight runs, five of those falling to Chahal who tied England into knots with his wily leg spin.
It was a risky move to play both Chahal and Amit Mishra on a ground that has been brutal on spinners in the past, but it was those two men that turned the course of this match. Captain Kohli introduced Suresh Raina into the attack for the 12th over and he was pummelled for 22 runs to give England the upper hand. It was from there that Chahal and Mishra turned the match for India and then ripped it forcibly from England’s grasp.
First, Mishra bowled an over that went for just three runs and should have brought about the wicket of Root had a simple chance not been put down at backward point by Yuvraj Singh. Then Chahal took the wickets of both Root and Morgan in the space of two balls, Morgan with a googly and Root with a ball that came out of the front of the hand and pinned him lbw. Chahal’s variations were well chosen and brilliantly executed and England had no answers.
Much will be made or Root’s innings. At the Chinnaswamy chasing 203 to win making 42 from 37 balls is a poor effort. Combined with his prosaic run-a-ball innings of 38 in the last match there are some that suggest Root does not have the power for T20. This is not the case. At the World T20 in India last year Root scored at a strike rate of 146, the same as Kohli managed at that event. But he lost his way in the last two games, almost seeming to want to over hit the ball, rather than relying on his great strength – timing.
The real reason for England’s defeat was not Root scoring too slowly, it was that they came up against their greatest enemy, a leg-spinner in Asian conditions. Once Chahal had them in his thrall the game was over. England went down swinging, which with the run rate raising was perhaps understandable, but it was embarrassing and comedic.
While 202 was a decent score, and as it turned out a winning one, India looked set for an even bigger total when KL Rahul started showing the form that saw him make a match-winning 71 in the previous match. He had made 22 when he was bowled by Ben Stokes when he went for a big shot into the legside.
So much of the coverage between the last match and this has been about poor umpiring. Chettithody Shamshuddin had a tough game when he officiated in Nagpur on Sunday, with the England team very disappointed with his decision to give Joe Root out lbw in the final over when the ball had clearly come off the inside edge. Shamshuddin withdrew himself from the firing line, citing fitness issues, but the issue of umpiring errors still lingering in the air when this match got underway. With that in mind it was all the more disappointing when the umpires missed a clear no ball from Stokes for the Rahul wicket.
Some bitter-sweet memories of the Chennai Super Kings were brought to mind during the partnership between Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni. The CSK stalwarts put on 55 for the third wicket, not the highest stand but the one that had the most impact in pushing India on towards 200, as both men went on to half centuries.
That fifty from Dhoni was his first in T20 internationals, coming in his 76th match. His lack of a T20 fifty for India was one of the great stats. Dhoni, an all-time great T20 batsman never having passed 50 in an international was as remarkable as all those years Jacques Kallis didn’t have a Test double ton. Now he does, and it was in a winning cause.
Some excellent late innings striking from Yuvraj helped India up to and beyond 200. But the feeling at the halfway stage was that this was no better than a par total. No one would have envisioned a win by 75 runs, but then no one would expect England’s excellent batting line up to go from 119 for two to 127 all out.
India have now beaten England in Tests, ODIs and T20s and are worthy winners in each of those series. They will be playing Test cricket again for the rest of their home season so it will be a while before this while ball team are in action again, but the first outing under Kohli’s stewardship has been a successful one.
Come the Champions Trophy in England this June expect this team to be in the mix come the latter stages, if not the favourites. The dismantling of a team that were World T20 finalists less than a year ago in this match shows what they are capable of if everything goes their way.