England Win to Keep the Series Alive

England bowlers put on a disciplined performance to keep India restricted to low scores while Alex Hales’ unbeaten half-century helped them to win the game by five wickets at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Friday.

Cricket news: England bowlers and Alex Hales played a crucial knock

Despite some last time heroics by the veteran MS Dhoni, the England bowlers restricted India to 148 for 5. But the England batsmen struggled a bit in the beginning.

But later Hales’ performance and a revived middle-order made all the difference, as they took on Kuldeep Yadav, their chief tormentor of the previous game, as he bowled four overs and gave 34 runs without getting a wicket.

The beginning of the chase was a battle between the English openers and Umesh Yadav. Jason Roy hit two fours and a six but Umesh came back by defeating the batsman’s defence and knocked over the stumps.

Jos Butler also struck three boundaries off Umesh’s two overs and was also dropped by Kohli. But he could not do much damage as he skied another moments later and Kohli didn’t make a second mistake.

The troubles against spin continued as Yuzvendra Chahal’s googly knocked the stumps of Joe Root. Chahal conceded just eight runs in his first two overs and Hardik was also quiet from the other end and complemented him well.

Kuldeep was also economical in the beginning which led to England getting only 59 runs from 10 overs which was a reflection of India’s efforts in the beginning.

But the net sessions with the bowling machine ‘Merlyn’ payed dividends as Hales struck a boundary and a six in the 11th over off the bowling of Chahal, and later hit a maximum off Kuldeep’s bowling that went out of the park.

Eoin Morgan also hit a couple of boundaries and the counter-attacking play put England back on track, but was cut short later by Pandya, whose short ball led to Morgan getting caught in the deep.

Pandya and Kuldeep turned the tide by bowling a couple of tight overs. But Bairstow again changed the game by striking two sixes off Kuldeep’s over and bringing the equation down to 23 off three overs.

Bhuvneshwar again changed the game to India’s favour by dismissing Bairstow and conceding just two runs. But crucial hits by Alex Hales in the penultimate over, a boundary off Umesh and a six and four off Bhuvneshwar’s ultimate over, led to England’s victory with two balls to spare.

Jake Ball was introduced in the team in place of Moeen Ali and the pacer bowled short balls, cutting the boundary option and building pressure which resulted in early wickets.

Rohit top-edged to give debutant Ball his first wicket, while Dhawan lost his grip and was run out and was later followed by KL Rahul. India managed 31 for the loss of 3 wickets in their powerplay overs.

England continued building more pressure as India reached 52 runs at halfway stage with Kohli failing to score a single boundary in his first 21 deliveries.

But later he broke the shackles by hitting a four and a six off consecutive deliveries. Raina too hit a six before getting stumped off Rashid which ended a partnership of a half-century.

Boundaries did not come as expected. Kohli promised some fireworks as he hit a six off Jordan in the 17th over but was caught by a diving Root in the following over off Willey.

Dhoni found the fence three times in the ultimate over, scoring 22 runs off Ball, which took the total to 148. But the earlier spells of the English bowlers meant India remained a few runs short.

Brief scores: India 148/5 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 47, MS Dhoni 32*; Liam Plunkett 1-17) lost to England 149/5 in 19.4 overs (Alex Hales 58*, Jonny Bairstow 28; Umesh Yadav 2-36) by 5 wickets.