Hales helps England draw level at Cardiff

Brief scores:

India 148/5 (20)
Virat Kohli 47 (38)
MS Dhoni 32* (24)
Liam Plunkett 1/17
David Willey 1/18

England 149/5 (19.4)
Alex Hales 58 (41)
Jonny Bairstow 28 (18)
Umesh Yadav 2/36
Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/19

Eoin Morgan won the toss and put an unchanged India XI to bat first. England’s only change, Jake Ball, picked his first T20I wicket when he dismissed Rohit Sharma for 5.

Poor running caused Shikhar Dhawan’s (10) downfall before Liam Plunkett castled KL Rahul for 6. India, in the blink of an eye, were reduced to 31/3 at the end of the powerplay before skipper Virat Kohli joined forces with Suresh Raina in a bid to resurrect.

Liam Plunkett, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid tightened the grip with boundaries drying up for the visitors. At the halfway stage, India were placed at 52/1 before Virat Kohli shifted gears, hitting Adil Rashid for a four and six.

Suresh Raina looked uncomfortable against the short ball all day before he clobbered Jake over midwicket with authority. Just when India stepped on the accelerator, Adil Rashid put a brake to the scoring rate again by dismissing Raina (27).

MS Dhoni, playing his 500th International, walked out at number 6 and took his time to settle. Virat Kohli on the other end had settled by then and kept punishing the loose balls. You know Kohli is in form when his wrists move quickly and he did exactly that to a full-toss from Jordan which cleared the midwicket fence.

The duo added pressure on the English outfielders by running hard before David Willey got rid of Kohli (47). MS Dhoni (32*) finally found his timing at the death and added 37 runs off the final 17 balls with Hardik Pandya (12*) including a big 22 run last over.

Chasing 149 to draw level, Roy got England off to a flying start, belting 14 runs from Umesh Yadav’s first over but the Vidharbha pacer got his revenge immediately in his next over when he went through the gate to pocket Roy for the second successive time.

Virat Kohli dropped a sitter from Buttler at mid-off but the latter couldn’t make India pay when he hit the ball again down to Kohli’s throat at mid-off.

England sent Joe Root at number three, ahead of Alex Hales but the move did not work. Root was castled by Chahal with India’s spinners again piling the pressure on the hosts. Virat Kohli’s opposite number Eoin Morgan made a slow start -- full of mistimed reverse hits.

Alex Hales, batting in the middle order, took it to himself and kept hitting the odd boundary keeping England in the chase. India had reduced Morgan and Co. to 59/3 at the halfway mark but a 48 run stand between Hales and the England skipper brought the hosts right back in the match.

Shikhar Dhawan took a stunner on Hardik Pandya’s bowling to bring an end to the partnership but Hales was growing from strength to strength. He attacked Kuldeep Yadav who ended conceding 34 runs from his full quota apart from being wicketless.

Jonny Bairstow played second fiddle to Hales and scored 28 off just 18 balls to tilt the game in England’s favour until Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed him and put pressure back on England.

But Hales’ calculative hitting meant that England came in touching distance of a win, needing 12 off the final over. Kumar had only conceded 7 runs from his first three overs but Hales welcomed him with a six and a four before Willey hit the winning runs to help England stay alive.

The series will be decided on Sunday at Bristol.

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