CARDIFF, July 7: Alex Hales struck an unbeaten 58 off 41 balls to power a much-improved England to a series-levelling five-wicket victory over India in the second T20 International here.
Chasing 149, England didn�t get off to the best start as Umesh Yadav (2-36) bowled Jason Roy (15) in the third over with a beautiful inswinger.
India though desperately wanted Jos Buttler�s (14) wicket, and the desperation grew when Kohli dropped him at mid-off off Umesh in the fifth over. He was on 10 not out then.
Much to the Indian skipper�s relief, it didn�t cost much as three balls later, Buttler gave away an almost identical chance and this time Kohli held on, running to his right and sparking his customary wild celebration.
Hales and skipper Eoin Morgan (17) then added 48 runs for the fourth wicket. Even as England were in cruise mode, Hardik Pandya (1-28) provided the breakthrough against the run of play. In fact, the wicket should be attributed to Shikhar Dhawan who took a leaping catch at fine leg boundary that stunned the crowd.
Earlier, England used the short-ball tactic to good effect and tied down both Rohit Sharma (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (10).
Rohit was the first to go, trying to pull a short delivery after failing to make contact repeatedly. He skied a catch off debutant Jake Ball (1-32) in the second over and was caught behind.
First game�s centurion KL Rahul (6) was in next but didn�t look comfortable at the crease either. The groundsmen left an extra layering of grass on the wicket�s top-surface and English bowlers used it amply.
With the short boundaries, they used short bowling against every top-order batsman. Even an in-form Rahul couldn�t contend with this tactic, thus managing to miss an off-cutter from Liam Plunkett (1-17) in the fifth over and was bowled.
Three balls later, Dhawan was run out in a bizarre manner as he failed to make ground going for a quick single, and lost control of his bat at the same time.
India were reduced to 22-3 in the fifth over and only managed 31-3 in the powerplay overs. It was India�s lowest powerplay total for 27 consecutive T20Is since June 2016 when they scored 29-3 against Zimbabwe in Harare. Dhawan�s dismissal had brought Suresh Raina (27 off 20 balls) and Kohli together at the crease. Despite his weakness against the short ball, the left-hander did well to help put on 57 runs for the fourth wicket with the Indian skipper.
India: Rohit Sharma c Jos Buttler b J Ball 5, Shikhar Dhawan run out 10, Lokesh Rahul b Plunkett 6, Virat Kohli c Root b Willey 47, Suresh Raina st Jos Buttler b Adil Rashid 27, MS Dhoni not out 32, Hardik Pandya not out 12. Extras: (b-4, lb-2, w-2, nb-1) 9. Total: (for 5 wkts in 20 overs) 148. Fall of wickets: 7-1, 22-2, 22-3, 79-4, 111-5. Bowling: David Willey 4-0-18-1, Jake Ball 4-0-44-1, Liam Plunkett 4-0-17-1, Chris Jordan 4-0-34-0, Adil Rashid 4-0-29-1.
England: Jason Roy b Umesh 15, Jos Buttler c Kohli b Umesh 14, Joe Root b Chahal 9, Alex Hales not out 58, Eoin Morgan c Dhawan b Hardik Pandya 17, Jonny Bairstow c Kuldeep Yadav b Bhuvneshwar 28, David Willey not out 3. Extras: (lb-4, w-1) 5. Total: (For 5 wickets in 19.4 overs) 149. Fall of wickets: 16-1, 33-2, 44-3, 92-4, 126-5. Bowling: Umesh Yadav 4-0-36-2, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3.4-0-19-1, Hardik Pandya 4-0-28-1, Yuzvendra Chahal 4-0-28-1, Kuldeep Yadav 4-0-34-0. � PTI