Having failed to whitewash England in the one-dayers, India would have been keen to finish off the England tour on a high, with a win in the final T20 on Sunday. At least one thinks so. For more than fifty per cent of the game, which is a significant portion in a T20 match, India dominated proceedings. However, in the other half of the match, they played some inexplicable cricket to lose a match, they should ideally have won. With both bat and ball, India were pedestrian during the period in mention, as a result of which they lost all the momentum they had going in their favour. In the end, it was a disappointing end to a disappointing series.
There were two key phases in the game, which cost India the chance to finish the tour on a winning note. Firstly, India bowled very poorly in the last five overs as England looked to break free. Until that point, the Indian bowlers were successful in maintaining a stranglehold over the England batting, but once Eoin Morgan opened up, the Indian bowlers had no idea how to stop him. Both the pacers and the slow bowlers were equally disappointing. While the spinners constantly bowled it short, allowing Morgan free hits, the faster men failed to find the block hole. Again, Morgan had things very easy, when he ideally should have been made to earn his runs. Boundaries were pretty much gifted at will to the England captain.
In spite of conceding a big score, India were in a comfortable position to chase down the target thanks to Virat Kohli's first half-century on the tour. The Indian number three made things looked extremely simple out in the middle. Till he was at the crease, India were cruising. However, as soon as he was dismissed India began to struggle, and ended up short of the target in the end. The manner in which the match turned post Kohli's dismissal reiterated the fact that irrespective of the format, the importance of a set batsman cannot be underestimated. Had Kohli been around till the end, India would have got home in a canter.
Of course a lot is being said about India losing the match due to skipper MS Dhoni's miscalculations. But, that is a far from realistic conclusion. Even though India fell short by only three runs in the end, they had fallen way too behind in the race as they needed 17 to win in the last over. The bigger blows were actually the untimely dismissals of Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina. Both had got their eye in, but were dismissed at inopportune moments. Their losses helped England regain the momentum. Dhawan's short in particular was a terrible one, and India could have done without his rash stroke.
While India have primarily themselves to blame for the loss, credit should also be given to England for their splendid fight back with both bat and ball. If Morgan batted spectacularly, and Ravi Bopara chipped in with key blows towards the end, the bowling also stood up at important points. Gurney, Woakes among others got wickets at key junctures. Further, England's decision to open the bowling with Moeen Ali proved to be a masterstroke. Ali conceded a six in his very first over, but then dismissed Ajinkya Rahane with the very next delivery. The rub of the green clearly went England's way on that day.
--By A Cricket Analyst