Rohit’s third T20I ton guides India to series victory

Brief scores:

England 198/9 (20)
Jason Roy 67 (31)
Jos Buttler 34 (21)
Alex Hales 30 (24)
Hardik Pandya 4/38
Siddharth Kaul 2/35

India 201/3 (18.4)
Rohit Sharma 100* (56)
Virat Kohli 43 (29)
Hardik Pandya 33* (14)
David Willey 1/37
Jake Ball 1/39

Hardik Pandya’s mid-innings resurgence, claiming 4/38 and Rohit Sharma’s breathtaking third T20I ton, including 11 fours and 5 massive sixes helped India defeat England in Bristol and win the 3-match T20I series 2-1 on Sunday.

India won the toss at Bristol and made two big changes after opting to chase. An injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar was replaced by Siddharth Kaul while India’s hero from the first T20I, Kuldeep Yadav was dropped to hand Deepak Chahar his T20I debut.

Jos Buttler got England off to a flying start, hitting as many as five boundaries from his first seven balls. Jason Roy also joined the carnage as England breezed past the fifty run mark inside five overs.

Hardik Pandya’s first four balls conceded 20 runs including a Jason Roy-dropped chance at long on. By the time India got done with the powerplay, England had raced to 73. Roy had outscored Buttler, getting to a fifty from just 23 balls.

India finally found some joy when Siddharth Kaul castled Jos Buttler to break their 94-run opening stand. Jason Roy was batting on 67 off 30 balls when a faint edge off Deepak Chahar carried to MS Dhoni to cause his downfall.

England were cruising at 134/2 in the 14th over when Hardik Pandya decided to change the game. He struck twice in the same over when Morgan (6) fell prey to a short ball and Alex Hales (30), England’s hero from Cardiff followed his English skipper back to the pavilion.

The hosts again rebuilt through Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow but it was Hardik Pandya again who struck in his last over and removed the two of them. England had now reduced to 181/6 at the end of 18 overs.

The hosts fumbled in the end and were eventually restricted to 198/9 at the end of their full quota, thanks to some smart work at the death from India’s bowlers and MS Dhoni behind the stumps, who claimed 5 catches, the most by a wicketkeeper in T20Is.

Chasing 199 for a series victory, India lost Shikhar Dhawan (5) early but Rohit Sharma came out with a certain intention. The early loss didn’t hinder our Hitman’s intentions and he along with KL Rahul got India past the 50-run mark in the fifth over.

KL Rahul hit two sixes in his 19-run stay before falling to a stunning-diving effort from Chris Jordan at the midwicket fence. India skipper Virat Kohli joined Rohit Sharma in the middle and duo took off.

Rohit was driving on the up, playing his square cuts to anything wide and flicking whatever was bowled to him on his pads. He got to his 16th T20I half-century in just 28-balls taking the game away from England.

Virat Kohli on the other end wasn’t holding back either. The team India skipper made 43, adding 89 runs for the third wicket in just 57 balls with Rohit Sharma who was now hitting in full tilt.

India were 51 runs adrift of the target when Kohli got out it in the 15th over. Hardik Pandya was promoted to number five, ahead of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni with the former taking full responsibility of seeing India through along with his MI skipper.

Rohit Sharma on the other end was growing from strength to strength. He hit a crisp drive through extra covers, moving to 99 before taking a single off the next ball to complete his third T20I ton. He became the second player after New Zealand’s Colin Munro to achieve this feat.

Hardik Pandya, meanwhile had pummelled 4 fours and a six, batting on 27* off 13 balls before he ended the game and got India across the line with a six down the ground.

This was India’s 6th successive T20I series win. Virat Kohli’s men will now face England in a 3-match ODI series starting July 12 in Trent Bridge.

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