Image courtesy of: Zimbio
India opener Rohit Sharma smashed an unbeaten 100 to not only lead his side to a seven-wicket win over England in the third Twenty20 International in Bristol, but also a 2-1 series win.
Rohit’s third century in the shortest format saw him equal New Zealand batsman Colin Munro on the list of players with the most hundreds in Twenty20 Internationals.
Being put in to bat first, England made a superb start to their innings as Jason Roy and Jos Buttler amassed a 94-run partnership, during which Roy surpassed his half-century, before Buttler was clean bowled by Siddarth Kaul for 34.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Roy went on to make 67 off 31 balls, which included four boundaries and seven sixes, before he was caught behind off the bowling of debutant Deepak Chahar.
England captain Eoin Morgan only scored six runs, while Alex Hales struck a 24-ball 30 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Hardik Pandya.
Ben Stokes, who was making his comeback from a torn hamstring, struck a quickfire 14, while Jonny Bairstow walloped a 14-ball 25.
Thanks to Bairstow’s late fireworks, England ended up making 198/9 off their 20 overs.
Pandya was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Kaul took two, and Chahar and Umesh Yadav chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 199 to win, India got off to a brisk start before opener Shikhar Dhawan was caught by Jake Ball at short fine leg off the bowling of David Willey for five runs.
Rohit and Lokesh Rahul made up for the loss of Dhawan with a 41-run partnership before Rahul was brilliantly caught by Chris Jordan off the bowling of Ball for 19.
Rohit and India captain Virat Kohli kept the runs flowing with an 89-run partnership, during which Rohit surpassed his half-century, before Kohli was caught and bowled by Jordan for 43, which came off 29 balls and included two boundaries and two sixes.
That was to be England’s last taste of success as Rohit and Pandya finished things off with an unbeaten 50-run stand, during which Rohit brought up his hundred.
Rohit finished on 100 off 56 balls, which included 11 boundaries and five sixes, while Pandya remained undefeated on 33 off 14 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two sixes.
Willey, Ball and Jordan claimed one wicket each.
Morgan was gutted to have lost, and said: “We had a tremendous start with the bat and we didn’t do ourselves justice…20 or 30 short. Our execution of shots wasn’t there. Picking the right ball to hit is something we’ll have to work on. India bowled, but on a small ground we’d have expected to score more than that.
“Thought we’d have to do something special with the ball and it’s hard to defend on a ground like this. Hopefully we can learn as we go along. This series has produced three completely different performances for us. We learn and hopefully improve.”
Kohli was thrilled to have won the series, and said: “I think the comeback from the bowlers was outstanding, we thought they would get 225-230. The character they showed is something we are really proud of. As captain, very happy to see that. We had the quality to bowl those wicket-taking deliveries. We applied pressure and pulled the game back.
“[Pandya] is a really good all-round cricketer, very confident, and the way he picked up those wickets is what you want to see in younger guys. Then he delivers with the bat, Rohit was obviously very special but Hardik was the standout.
“The pitch was really flat, we enjoyed ourselves as batsmen. I think it was a brutal day for the bowlers. We backed up something and the guys produced the goods for us. We will continue to try different things in the batting order and the bowlers. The guys are taking this as an opportunity. Great to start with a series win.”
Rohit was named Man of the Match, and said: “That’s the style of my play, assessing the conditions was important. We knew the wicket would be nice to play on. I was trying to hold the shape when playing the big shots. I like to be calm, not to panic too much, because once you are there you can make up the scoring. With the wicket being so good, I just knew I had to stay there. [Pandya] is a fearless individual and that’s what the team want him to do.”