NEW DELHI: Former Indian batsman expressed his admiration for the way India came back twice in the T20I series against England, the deciding match of which will be played on Saturday.
In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, “This T20 series has already assumed the hue of a classic, nothing separating India and England going into Saturday’s decider. On the best batting surface so far, India adopted the blueprint that has catapulted them to No. 2 in the rankings, playing the percentages, putting up a competitive total and then defending superbly, with Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur excelling.”
India claimed an eight-run victory in the fourth Twenty20 international on Thursday that levelled the five-match series at 2-2. Shardul Thakur claimed three wickets while Hardik Pandya and Rahul Chahar took two each as India kept England to 177/8 in their chase of 186.
“One of the primary reasons for defeats in the first and third matches was the loss of three wickets in the first six overs. Asked to bat again, India’s approach was more commonsensical. There was no frenzied attempt to collar the high-quality England attack, but when the ball was there to be hit, the batsmen did so uninhibitedly,” Laxman added.
Suryakumar Yadav hit Jofra Archer for a six over fine leg on the first ball he faced in an international innings. Yadav smashed 57 off just 31 balls and his knock included three sixes and six fours.
“Suryakumar Yadav was the undisputed star, his first hit in international cricket reaffirming his class and pedigree. He has had to wait a long time for his opportunity but made an instant impact with a spectacular hooked first-ball six off Jofra Archer. That, and the inside out drive over extra-cover off an Adil Rashid googly, spoke volumes of his trust in his strengths and his self-belief. Over the last few months, the attitude and composure of newcomers has been the most significant development in Indian cricket, with Suryakumar the latest addition to that glittering list,” Laxman opined.
Shreyas Iyer (37) and Rishabh Pant (30) made useful contributions and scored briskly in the end to provide India enough runs to defend.
“Shreyas Iyer too played a special innings down the order. The Delhi Capitals captain knows he may not always get to bat at his preferred position for the national team, and has clearly worked on expanding his repertoire. His pyrotechnics, steeped in orthodoxy, lifted India to a par score when they might have liked 15 more,” Laxman wrote.
Indian pacers’ change in pace has played a crucial role in both their wins. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur mixed their deliveries well to trouble the hard-hitting English batsmen.
“Bhuvneshwar Kumar got India off to a cracking start with a maiden first up, and Jos Buttler‘s wicket in his second over, but England seemed on course with Jason Roy, and then Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes teeing off. When Shardul packed off Stokes and Eoin Morgan off successive deliveries, India were back in the hunt. No praise can be too high for Hardik Pandya, who only went for 16 in his four overs and picked up two wickets in a game where the scoring rate was well in excess of nine. Credit to him for having put in the hard yards following major back surgery, and to bowling coach B Arun for ensuring Hardik retains his zest for bowling. I still feel India should consider an extra bowling option,” Laxman added.
Laxman expressed his displeasure on Suryakumar Yadav’s controversial dismissal in the 4th T20I. Yadav’s pull shot sailed to deep square leg where Dawid Malan took a tumbling low catch. As England celebrated, on-field umpire K N Ananthapadmanabhan gave the soft signal of ‘out’ before sending the decision to TV umpire Virender Sharma.
According to the rules, on-field umpires give a ‘soft signal’ based on their intuition when there is a tight call, making a decision before asking the TV umpire to look at it again from different angles in slow motion. TV umpires must uphold the soft signal decision unless they have conclusive evidence to overturn it.
Replays of Thursday’s incident suggested the ball might have touched the grass but Sharma was not fully convinced and hence upheld Ananthapadmanabhan’s decision.
“I believe there must be a rethink on the soft signal as a whole. How can the on-field umpire state with any certainty that a catch has been taken cleanly 70 yards away when even technology leaves itself open to interpretation,” Laxman signed off.