Image courtesy of: Zimbio
England batsman Alex Hales struck a game-winning 58 not out to lead his side to a five-wicket win over India in the second Twenty20 International in Cardiff.
Electing to bowl first, England got the early breakthrough they were looking for as India opener Rohit Sharma was caught behind off the bowling of debutant Jake Ball for five runs.
Shikhar Dhawan, who opened the batting with Rohit, scored 10 runs before he was run out by Jason Roy.
Lokesh Rahul was on his way back to the pavilion three balls later as he was clean bowled by Liam Plunkett for six runs.
India captain Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina stabilised the innings with a 57-run partnership before Raina was stumped by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off the bowling of Adil Rashid for 27.
Kohli went on to score 47 off 38 balls, which included a boundary and two sixes, before he was caught by Joe Root at fine leg off the bowling of David Willey.
With MS Dhoni scoring an unbeaten 32 off 24 balls and Hardik Pandya chipping in with 12 not out, India finished on 148/5 off their 20 overs.
Willey, Ball, Plunkett and Rashid picked up one wicket apiece.
Chasing 149 to win, England lost Roy in the third over as he was clean bowled by Umesh Yadav for 15.
Buttler mustered 14 runs before he was caught by Kohli at mid-off off the bowling of Yadav.
Root only scored nine runs before he was clean bowled by Yuzvendra Chahal.
With England in a spot of bother at 44/3, Hales and captain Eoin Morgan came to the rescue with a 48-run partnership.
Pandya provided the breakthrough India needed as he removed Morgan for 17.
Even though Jonny Bairstow was dismissed after thumping a quickfire 28, Hales kept his cool and guided England to victory with his unbeaten knock of 58, which came off 41 balls and included four boundaries and three sixes.
Yadav was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Pandya, Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed one wicket each.
Kohli was disappointed to have lost, and said: “Always difficult to come back after losing three early wickets. England hit the right areas and made us play bad shots. Would’ve liked 10-15 runs more. We thought 149 would be competitive, especially since they had to win. But they eventually did win.
“They played Kuldeep really well today, and that was the difference in the middle overs this time. They did their homework and played Kuldeep really well. Need to get back day after. The format is cruel: Umesh was outstanding, but the final-ball boundary changed things. Those little things count. Gotta brush it aside, had a good game, but England were better than us.”
Morgan was thrilled to have set up a decider, and said: “We showed character. There was a bit more bounce today. When it bounces you can take wickets, and that’s what we did. Willey did well, and the unit as a whole did really well. We were happy with that total.
“To get 150 was a cagey affair, but was happy to go over the line. The way Alex played today, he adapted to the conditions really well, and did small partnerships that helped us chase this down. We normally play spin quite well, but it’s a matter of being logical while playing.”
Hales was named Man of the Match, and said: “A much-needed win. Important game, and nice to take the team through to the win. Had to look at a bit more footage for the spinners, and this time I played more on the back foot. The other day was just a bad day at the office.
“Any position for me in the team is fine with me. All the guys below me can also hit boundaries, so we were rather confident. Bowling effort was outstanding. Two very strong teams so all to play for in Bristol.”