Alex Hales’ 41-ball 58 secured a tough five-wicket victory for England over India to level the three-match T20I series.
It was a tight match in Cardiff as India fought hard to defend a 149-run target against England. The hosts elected to field and the match went deep into the final over, despite what the winning margin suggests.
Virat Kohli was the only worthy batsman for India, his 38-ball 47 holding the visitors’ innings together. After being 22-3 just before the five-over mark, Kohli and Suresh Raina picked up their side’s innings to help them edge closer to the 100-run mark.
After Raina’s stumping off Adil Rashid’s bowling, Kohli pushed his side to 111, before David Willey removed the India skipper. MS Dhoni’s 32 off 24 balls and Hardik Pandya’s 12 off 10 helped their side post a meek total of 148-5.
Umesh Yadav gave India the perfect start. He dismissed Jason Roy and Jos Buttler in the third and fifth over respectively to knock the hosts two down for 33.
Hales embarked on an identical rescue mission to Kohli in the middle overs, but unlike the India skipper’s 57-run partnership with Raina, Hales’ partnership with Eoin Morgan (17) was disrupted two runs short of 50.
Jonny Bairstow’s 18-ball 28 was invaluable until he lost his scalp one ball into the 18th over, with England on 127-5.
Needing 20 off the last two overs, Yadav squeezed the English batsmen in their crease for the first three balls, conceding just three, but Hales drove him through the covers for four as they continued to chip away at the target.
Needing 12 off six overs, Bhuvneshwar Kumar uncharacteristically choked, bowling inconsistent lines and lengths that eventually handed the hosts the victory.
Hales hit Kumar for six off the first ball to reach his half-century, followed by a four and a single before Willey hit the winning run.
Hales did what Kohli couldn’t and finished on an unbeaten half-century as England levelled the three-match series.