In sharp contrast, Virat Kohli funnelled his aggression in the right direction as he raised a well-crafted unbeaten 46-ball-77 (8×4; 4×6) which helped India to 156/6. But his efforts proved to be too little too late. Jos Buttler dished out a classy 52-ball 83* (5×4; 4×6) to see England through to runaway eight-wicket win with 10 balls to spare.
Jonny Bairstow (40*; 28b; 5×4) played the perfect comrade in arms to Buttler.
While pacers Mark Wood (3/31) and Chris Jordan (2/35) flexed their pace against the home team’s erring batsmen, England opener Buttler tore into the Indian bowling attack. On an easing surface, the wicketkeeper-batsman spelt out his intentions early when he welcomed spinner Yuzvendra Chahal into the attack by dancing down the track to send the ball over long-on for maximum.
Four balls and a wicket (Jason Roy) later, he found the sweet spot again in the same direction and didn’t look back thereafter. He took a special liking to Chahal and Shardul Thakur and made batting seem like a walk in the park. Buttler’s knock was symbolic of England’s thumping victory, which ensured a 2-1 advantage in the five-match series for the visitors.
Earlier, sent in to bat, Kohli saw the team to a reasonable total in the company of Hardik Pandya (17), with whom he shared a 70-run sixth wicket association.
The home side brought in Rohit – in place of Suryakumar Yadav – to open the innings with KL Rahul. Wood, who sat out of the previous match due to injury, was impeccable with his line and length on a surface which didn’t scream seam but was liberal with pace and bounce.
The Indian openers failed to read the conditions and the first to make his way back to the dugout was the misfiring Rahul (0), whose indecisiveness in playing Wood’s allowed the ball to zip through the gate. Both Rohit (15) and last match hero Ishan (4) paid the price for poor shot selection with Rohit falling to a low catch to Jofra Archer at short fine leg.
01:333rd T20I: Buttler show gives England 2-1 lead over India
India were already in trouble, having slipped to 24/3 at the end of powerplay and a partnership between Kohli and Rishabh Pant (25) was crucial to get out of jail. But an attempt to steal a non-existent third run, with ample encouragement from Kohli, sent Pant back. Kohli then began to resuscitate India’s innings. Where Pandya struggled, Kohli played with authority.
Kohli shifted gears in the 16th over when he top-edged Archer for a six. What followed was a masterclass. Kohli brought up his successive half-century with a boundary off Jordan. Even Wood, who had kept it tight for his first three overs, was not spared as India milked 69 runs off the last five overs, but that failed to change the host’s fortunes.
In Pics: Buttler stars as England beat India by 8 wickets in third T20I
Jos Buttler’s blistering 83 not out trumped Virat Kohli’s majestic half-century as England beat India by eight wickets in the third T20I to go 2-1 up in the five-match series. (PTI Photo)
The hosts will need to address issues while batting first. Far too often they have lost T20I matches while batting first and skipper Kohli alluded to it in his post-match press-conference.
“Yes, we wanted to bowl first too and toss was a factor. But if you lose the toss, embrace what has been asked from you. The England bowlers attacked the right lines and lengths and with their pace, they became more potent,” Kohli said.
India would also like to take a look at the combinations and their tendency to try out too many things against a team that is on top of the world rankings and joint favourites for the World T20 which is scheduled to be played in India in October.
They have less than two days to salvage the series as the fourth T20I will be played at the same venue on Thursday evening.