NEW DELHI: Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman credited India’s bowlers for their magnificent victory in the second T20I against England. India beat England by seven wickets on Sunday to level the five-match series 1-1.
In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, “In what is fast becoming the norm, India again bounced back from defeat in the first match of a series to haul themselves into contention. Ideally, you’d want to start strongly and fire the first salvo, but there’s no denying the resolve and the resilience of this Indian team.”
Put in to bat, England didn’t have a great start as Bhuvneshwar Kumar trapped Jos Buttler plumb in front for a duck on just the third ball of the innings.
“The genesis for their commanding win in the second T20I lay in a clinical bowling performance. After Virat Kohli won a significant toss, Bhuvneshwar Kumar set the tone. He dismissed Jos Buttler in the first over, and when he realised there was no swing on offer, he brought his variations into the play with the new ball itself. It’s important that the experienced hands understand the conditions and the requirements at the earliest so that the message percolates through the ranks. That’s where Bhuvi was as exemplary as in the execution of his skills,” Laxman added.
Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur took two wickets each and in the final four overs, India conceded just 28 runs to restrict England under 170.
“The bowling performance was excellent on a tacky surface in the first half. Washington Sundar continued to use his height and intelligence to good effect, Yuzvendra Chahal asked difficult questions of Jason Roy with his outside-off line and Shardul Thakur was outstanding at the death as India choked England in the last five overs. Most encouraging was Hardik Pandya playing as the fifth bowling option, a rarity in recent times. Virat used him superbly. Hardik the all-rounder changes the dynamic of the Indian set-up, as was evident on Sunday night,” Laxman opined.
Shikhar Dhawan was benched for the second T20I after making a 12-ball four in the first game which India lost. He was replaced by debutant Ishan Kishan, who smashed 56 off 32 balls.
“I felt for Shikhar Dhawan, benched after just one opportunity; that’s not fair on anyone, let alone a seasoned player. But the man who replaced him lit up Motera with a fabulous knock. Ishan Kishan’s excellent form in the IPL and in subsequent domestic tournaments helped him break the door open to the Indian team, and he showcased the same fearlessness and positivity with a magnificent knock on debut. He didn’t go hell for leather but picked his areas judiciously and, like Rishabh Pant, has evolved from a leg-side basher to a more rounded batsman,” Laxman wrote.
Indian captain Virat Kohli hit form with an unbeaten 73 after three ducks in his five previous international innings to seal the match with a four and a six. Kohli and Kishan put on 93 runs for the second wicket as India reached their 165-run target in 17.5 overs.
“Ishan’s aggression allowed Virat to bat himself in. In the first match, the skipper seemed in an uncharacteristic hurry, losing shape as he tried to hit the ball too hard too early. The sign of a class act is in recognising and rectifying mistakes at the earliest, and Virat is nothing if not a batsman supreme. Having batted around the two younger left-handers at the start, he unleashed his full fury towards the end in another exhibition of his mastery of chasing. India’s reinvented approach to the 20-over game was vindicated by the seven-wicket win, but it also showed that discretion is always the better part of valour. This series between the world’s two best T20 teams is beautifully balanced with three to play,” Laxman signed off.