Rohit too hot for England as India win Bristol decider
England had no answer to Rohit Sharma as India took the Vitality IT20 series 2-1
England came up short in their Bristol decider as Rohit Sharma’s world record-equalling third Twenty20 international century eased India to a series-sealing seven-wicket victory.
Jason Roy (67) threatened to put England’s stamp on this sun-drenched Vitality IT20 occasion as a vivid green pitch belied its bizarre appearance to serve up another run-fest .
But the hosts failed to capitalise on the start provided by Roy and Jos Buttler’s opening stand of 94, as Hardik Pandya took a career-best four wickets for 38 runs and then Rohit (100 not out) and Virat Kohli did the rest to pass a target of 198 for nine.
The tourists therefore wrapped up the first series of their long tour with eight balls to spare as Rohit hit 11 fours and five sixes to become only the second batsman, following New Zealand’s Colin Munro, to bag a third hundred in this format.
Roy and Buttler got England off to a wonderful start after Kohli put them in.
Buttler had the majority of the early strike and duly made the pace before his partner raced past him with a rush of fours and mostly sixes.
Roy just missed the national record for fastest 50 in this format, taking 23 to the 22 Buttler needed against Australia at Edgbaston last month, and his eventual seven sixes equalled the highest aggregate in an innings by an Englishman.
There were also four fours from 31 deliveries before he was the second out, caught-behind trying to manufacture a cut off debutant Deepak Chahar.
The opening partnership ended in the eighth over, after England had racked up their second-highest powerplay total of 73 – with Roy dropped on the long-on boundary on 38 off Pandya by Yuzvendra Chahal.
That first over from Pandya cost him 22 as his tactic of going mostly short to Roy proved unwise.
England, however, were to fall short of what their openers had indicated might be possible.
Twice, two new batsmen had to rebuild – and although Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan, then Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes, were partially successful, neither partnership quite recovered the early momentum.
It was Pandya who saw to that, with a little help from MS Dhoni.
Four of the veteran wicketkeeper’s new world-record five catches in a Twenty20 international innings came off Pandya.
Like Roy, Hales edged a cut, but Morgan’s dismissal was more memorable as Dhoni held a mistimed skier in the popping crease – knocking over the stumps in the process.
Bairstow and Stokes kept 200 on the agenda. But they too both fell to Pandya in the same over – the first two of five wickets to fall in a manic last 15 balls of a home innings which did not quite fulfil its promise.
India’s chase was soon minus Shikhar Dhawan, very well held by Jake Ball at short fine-leg off David Willey.
Chris Jordan took an even better catch – arguably among the best of all-time, sprinting back many yards from mid-on and completing a diving take near the boundary off Ball – to see off KL Rahul and make it 62 for two.
Rohit, however, was already well on his way – and joining forces with Kohli was of course no detriment in a stand of 89 which put India within near touching distance.
Jordan held a fierce return catch from Kohli to keep the outcome in fleeting doubt, but Rohit was not about to fall at the final hurdle – and Pandya was no slouch either as Ball and Willey in particular took their punishment.