India managed to stay alive in the Twenty20 International (T20I) series on Thursday after beating England by eight runs in the fourth match of the five-game contest. Suryakumar Yadav and Shardul Thakur proved to be the game-changers as India levelled the series at 2-2 with the deciding T20I set to be played on Saturday. Suryakumar, playing in only his second T20I for India, scored a brilliant 31-ball 57 to help India post a winning total. While Shardul Thakur went for some runs, he struck thrice, including the wickets of Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan, as India managed to keep England down to 177 for eight.
Suryakumar’s knock proved to be crucial to India’s cause. His innings provided the impetus to India after Rohit Sharma had been dismissed in the fourth over. With Rahul struggling to get going and captain Virat Kohli back in the hut after scoring just one, Suryakumar kept his calm and at the same time scored quickly to set the foundation.
On his T20I debut, in the second match of the series, Suryakumar didn’t get an opportunity to bat and was then dropped from the playing XI for the third T20I.
But coming into bat at No.3 instead of Kohli in the fourth T20I, the right-hander grabbed the chance with both hands.
India’s two heroes on the night got together with each taking turns to interview one another.
— BCCI (@BCCI) March 19, 2021
“It was my dream to play for India and win matches for the national team. While batting, I didn’t complicate things and just expressed myself. There were a few butterflies in my stomach but I knew if I play the first couple of balls well, things would get easier,” he told Shardul.
On the very first ball that he faced that too against Jofra Archer, Suryakumar pulled/hooked him to get off the mark with a maximum. The Indian batsman said that having already played Archer in the IPL, he had a fair idea as to what to expect from him.
“I have seen him in the IPL and international cricket. Whenever a new batsman is there, he tries to put them on the backfoot. I have played against him in the IPL, so I had an idea how he would bowl in the powerplay and in the death overs. So, I was already prepared. I have been playing this shot from my early days,” he said.
Suryakumar quizzes Shardul
Shardul Thakur went for 42 runs off his four overs but picked up crucial wickets to dent England’s chase. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow’s partnership put England within touching distance but the latter was dismissed by Rahul Chahar.
At the time Stokes was going great guns, and threatening to tilt the balance in England’s favour. But Shardul removed him and England captain Eoin Morgan off consecutive balls to put India in control.
“I took two wickets at that time, and then felt that we could seal the game. I was very happy after taking the wickets. Two wickets off two balls was very good for the team,” Shardul told Suryakumar.
With England needing 23 off the final six balls, stand-in captain Rohit Sharma threw the ball to Shardul. A four, six and a couple of wides set the cat among the pigeons but the Indian fast bowler held his nerves as India won by eight runs.
“In the final over, captain told me the leg side is longer and need to think of how to bowl that the batsmen hit to the longer part of the ground. Rohit Sharma was the stand-in captain, and he told me to back my plans. So, the plan was to bowl 2-3 dot balls,” the Indian pacer said.
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