Well, four and a quarter hours later, we have a winner. And the right winner, India getting it right with the ball when it mattered most. For England, they’ll look back at the first two deliveries of the 17th over as match-defining with Stokes ands Morgan dismissed by consecutive Thakur off-cutters. After so much discussion about the toss and the importance of batting second, the hosts have done it the hard way, setting up a tasty series-decider on Saturday. In closing, good luck to Jim Wallace (and his partner!) in the maternity ward – we’ll have a new OBO baby by the time we return. Bye!
INDIA WIN BY EIGHT RUNS! (England 177-8)
A swing and a miss from the final ball. India hold on to square the series at two games each with the decider coming on Saturday.
20th over: England 177-8 (Archer 18, Rashid 0). Target 186.
WICKET! Jordan c Hardik b Thakur 12 (England 177-8)
Thakur holds his nerve, Jordan holing out to long-off.
19.4 overs: England 177-7 (Jordan 12, Archer 18). Target 186. Archer swings and makes contact, the ball doesn’t go too far into the offside but he’s taken a chunk out of his bat! Nine off two needed.
19.3 overs: England 176-7 (Jordan 12, Archer 17). Target 186. WIDE! Thakur went outside the off and missed his off-cutter. 11 off three needed! And another WIDE with the full ball outside off missing by a mile this time. Oh dear. Make it ten off three needed.
19.3 overs: England 174-7 (Jordan 12, Archer 17). Target 186. A delay to replace the ball. Sure. JOFRA DOESN’T MIND! HE’S HIT THE SHORT BALL FOR SIX OVER MIDWICKET! 12 off three needed.
19.2 overs: England 168-7 (Jordan 12, Archer 11). Target 186. Four for Archer down the ground! Great shot! 18 from four needed.
19.1 overs: England 164-7 (Jordan 12, Archer 7). Target 186. Thakur to bowl it, Jordan hacking a single from the first. 22 off five needed.
19th over: England 163-7 (Jordan 11, Archer 7). Target 186. Bhuvi to Archer, who has never faced a delivery for England in this format of the game. With so much pace off the ball, everything needs to go right for batsmen down the order and that’s not the case here – all inside edges and miscues. Then the yorker comes, Jordan keeping it out. To the final ball of the over and Archer does manage to get it away, slicing over backward point for four. 23 needed off six balls!
WICKET! Curran b Pandya 3 (England 153-7)
Bowled by the slower one! Curran swings, Hardik hits. The Indian all-rounder completes his night with the exceptional figures of 2/16. Just about game, set and match with 33 needed from two overs.
18th over: England 153-7 (Jordan 6). Target 186.
17th over: England 147-6 (S Curran 1, Jordan 6). Target 186. Neither Curran nor Jordan have faced a ball and have 46 to find in 22 balls from here for what is becoming an increasingly unlikely England win. Jordan does what he must though, throwing the bat at Thakur’s length delivery, crashing it through cover for four! Whoa – there is that dew factor, a ball spits out of Thakur’s hand and ends up at cover… dead ball it is. He finishes the job though: just seven runs alongside the two crucial wickets he claimed in two balls. England require 39 from 18 balls with Hadrik to bowl over number 19.
Back to middle names for Jim? “Wally Wallace has a ring to it,” declares Martin Bedford. “His partner might think it entirely stupid but would probably be unaware of the sly cricketing reference.”
WICKET! Morgan c Sundar b Thakur 4 (England 140-6)
Thakur’s on a hat-trick! He’s sorted out the two England left-handers in the space of two balls with two off-cutters, Morgan’s sliced drive landing with Sundar on the point rope. Brilliant death bowling!
WICKET! Stokes c Suryakumar b Thakur 46 (England 140-5)
Stokes pops Thakur’s accurate off-cutter straight down the throat of SKY at long-off! That could be the matchwinning moment.
16th over: England 140-4 (Stokes 46, Morgan 4). Target 186. Bhuvi is back for the death, hanging outside off to the left-handers from over the wicket – the ball might be wet, but he’s one of the most accurate bowlers in the world. So Stokes adapts! He dances, it’s short outside the off-stump, so he slams the crosscourt forehand through cow corner into the gap for four. It’s what he does. Morgan now, shuffling across his stumps and he doesn’t make contact – missing leg stump by an inch, it isn’t called as a wide – nor should it. And to finish, Bhuvi skids onto Morgan’s pad – another dot! 46 from 24 needed.
15th over: England 132-4 (Stokes 41, Morgan 1). Target 186. So after all that – Stokes’ SIX over extra cover, the best of modern batting, then the Bairstow wicket – 14 come from the over. Morgan takes a single from the one ball he gets to look at from the legspinner, retaining the strike. Chahar finishes with a very handy 2/35.
WICKET! Bairstow c Sundar b Chahar 25 (England 131-4)
The push and pull continues! After Stokes hits Chahar for six, the spinner bounces back with a hard-spun delivery at Bairstow, top-edged to Sundar who takes an easy chance at backward point.
14th over: England 118-3 (Bairstow 25, Stokes 28). Target 186. Bairstow dances at Sundar, who is starting his fourth over, chipping over square leg for two. He goes again, opening up the hips at the point of delivery from around the wicket, getting a good look before slamming the ball through midwicket – that’s four. The calculated attack continues in style, this time taking him for SIX over deep midwicket. He didn’t strike that well, but all the range-hitting practice they do is to make sure shots like that still carry the full journey. Sundar is back over the wicket now and YJB finds the same gap for four more! Along the ground, more in control – from well outside the off-stump, that’s the way to do it. 16 from four balls, will he try again? He won’t – a single to mid-on from the penultimate delivery; Stokes retains the stike with a single of his own. These two have now put on 52 in 31 deliveries with 68 needed form the last 36.
13th over: England 100-3 (Bairstow 8, Stokes 27). Target 186. Great scrap this: no team has been in the obvious ascendancy for more than a couple of overs throughout the match Perhaps mindful of this fine balance, Stokes realises he needs to take Chahar on at some point in this set and when he does, he hits him over his head for SIX! In terms of the final stretch, Kohli has two to come from Bhuvi and Thakur and one each for Hardik, Sundar and Chahar.
“Jim can tell his other half that she can pick the first name,” writes Naren Radhakrishnan, “he picks the middle name and they toss for the last one. One doesn’t question the other’s choice.”
12th over: England 91-3 (Bairstow 6, Stokes 20). Target 186. England, and Stokes, needed that – he jumps on a shorter offering from Sundar and clobbers it over midwicket for SIX. It means the over is bookended with boundaries, starting with a stand-and-deliver slap down the ground. Stokes is now 20 from 12 and building.
“Hello Collo.” Hello, Iain McKane. “The Malan conundrum: these things don’t coincide as they perhaps used to, but I’d trade Dawid missing out on the T20 World Cup, if it means he has a full English summer focusing on and honing his red-ball batting. England may need him to put the grit in the oyster of their middle order in next winter’s Ashes.”
I doubt he’d sign up to that. Nevertheless, all of a sudden a lot riding on how Malan finishes this series on Saturday. To think how high he was riding last Friday, not out at the end, sealing it with a six.
11th over: England 79-3 (Bairstow 5, Stokes 9). Target 186. Ooh, Stokes is a lucky man early in the Chahar over – if Thakur nails a direct hit from short fine leg, he’s gone. With that disaster averted, the England matchwinner dances and lifts the spin over midwicket – it’s not far from Shreyas on the dive, he didn’t come close to getting all of it – but it ends up reaching the rope. A reverse sweep follows and it barely makes it outside of the fielding circle. Two further singles to finish; eight from it. India were also 79-3 at this stage.
10th over: England 71-3 (Bairstow 3, Stokes 3) Sundar’s second, after copping some tap from Jason Roy to finish the power play – no need to worry about him, though. Five runs, no boundaries – can’t ask for much more than that. England need 11.5 an over from here.
John Starbuck has some thoughts, Jim, however unhelpful they might be… “Mrs Wallace might not be impressed by Goose, Beefy, Deadly or indeed Whispering Death, but Boss could work.”
9th over: England 66-3 (Bairstow 1, Stokes 0) Fine bowling from Hardik Pandya – the Indian all-rounder has 1/11 from three overs.
Simon Lea has something for you, Jim in the maternity ward. “Wishing Jim and his other half much happiness today, sure he’ll look back in a year’s time at the line ‘With plenty of time to kill’ and shudder. I won’t be much help in his quest for a suitable middle name (best effort so far is ‘Thighpad’), but his message did remind me of the first words I said to my son when he was born. I said hello, apologised for Brexit and then told him about about the shambolic performance by England in the first test against Bangladesh in 2016. Set him up for a lifetime of being repeatedly let down by the public at large and the England cricket team.”
Perfect! When my Winnie was born last Valentine’s Day, I had to quickly ask Tim de Lisle to take on the OBO that afternoon. It meant she was welcomed on this page after being alive for all of six hours.
WICKET! Roy c Suryakumar b Hardik 40 (England 66-3)
England in strife! Roy holes out to deep midwicket, miscuing his pull shot straight down the throat of SKY. Hardik’s slower ball does it.
8th over: England 60-2 (Roy 35, Bairstow 0) The Malan story continues to be a complicated one, tonight facing 17 balls for his 14. He’s the No1 ranked player in the world, with the highest average of all time in the format, yet he’s the man most likely to be dropped from this team. Chahar gets one ball at Bairstow to complete his successful over ans spins it big, past the right-hander’s outside edge.
WICKET! Malan b Chahar 14 (England 60-2)
Malan bowled reverse sweeping! Leg stump flattened! Chahar, brought into the team for tonight, has done the trick for his skipper.
6th over: England 56-1 (Roy 33, Malan 13) Nice control from Malan, moving into double figures with his first SIX, lifting over long-off. Thakur drags his length back and Malan wants to steer him but misses – indeed, there’s an appeal for caught behind turned down. No review. So close – I thought he might’ve hit it watching live. Thakur, who bowled so many excellent slower balls on Sunday, gets one to grip and jump now, hitting Malan in the stomach. And he repeats the dose to finish – swing and a miss. Great modern contest.
David Fordham has a middle name for our man Jim in the maternity ward waiting for his first baby to arrive. He could try ‘Rags’ which is what the great Derek Randall used to call himself when he chatted to himself whilst at the crease.”
6th over: England 48-1 (Roy 33, Malan 5) Sundar has bowled a lot of power play overs in this series and is given the responsibility of sending down the sixth here. Malan takes a couple of balls to get off strike – back to Roy now. He was out to off-spin in the second game but that was with the field out – nobody is stopping his sweep shot here, nailed over backward square leg. Shot. Oooh, and a sweet blow follows: SIX over extra cover after opening up the off-side. He does the same to finish, albeit along the floor, closing the power play with another boundary and 17 off the over – important for England.
5th over: England 31-1 (Roy 17, Malan 4) Malan DROPPED by Thakur at short third! It’s a mighty effort, tipping it with one hand, but on reflection he might’ve reached it with two and increased the chances of success. Not to be. Hardik gets through the over conceding just three singles, giving him 0/5 from two. They’re precious overs for Kohli from his fifth bowler, two out of the way in the power play.
OBO baby incoming! From Jim Wallace in the maternity ward in Tooting! “Hello Collo.” Jim, we’re all with you. “Following the OBO on the ropey WiFi as we wait for some action of our own… no crowd in India but the hustle and bustle here more than making up for it, the ever chirpy NHS nurses and staff keeping us all going and the odd contraction echoing around the corridors (some reminiscent of particularly pained appeals, NOT OUT taking on a whole new meaning). With plenty of time to kill got to thinking about suitable cricket nicknames I can sneak past my partner into a middle name for our imminent arrival, reckon I’ve got a better chance with ‘Sky’ than ‘Crime’, ‘Afghan’ ‘Arkle’ or ‘The Judge’. Whaddya reckon? Any suggestions?”
I suggest enjoying this frolic while you can! You’ll have a job to do in there soon enough. Do keep us posted, and the very best of luck.
4th over: England 28-1 (Roy 16, Malan 2) Thakur is an impressive cricketer. He nearly skittles Roy early in the over when trying to put him on the moon but getting a little edge instead, running away for four. No justice for bowlers. Oh, and more runs off the edge, this time the outside of Roy’s blade, down to third man for four more.
“No complaining about how long it took the third umpire in the first innings,” writes Robert F Speed. “The third umpire made quick (and probably correct) decisions in the Chennai test matches, and there was no end of complaint from England about how he made his decisions TOO quickly.”
No complaints about the third umpire taking their time. Not from me, anyway. It’s such a tough job in short-form cricket.
3rd over: England 15-1 (Roy 6, Malan 0) Earlier in the over, Roy glanced a four and Buttler launched a six over backward square, but they’re blows of little relevance compared to Bhuvi’s breakthrough.
“Afternoon Adam.” Hello, Brian Withington! “I think a more nuanced answer to where Buttler should bat in T20 is for him to open when England are batting first, and come in later to finish when chasing. The only exception is where the chase is so high that it demands the full ‘turbo nutter bastard’ response from the outset. Discuss.”
Not great timing on that discussion now that Jos has been and gone, but I still think he’s best placed taking advantage of the field up.
WICKET! Buttler b KL Rahul b Bhuvneshwar 9 (England 15-1)
Huge! Buttler goes! A leading edge to mid-off, the delivery after miscuing out to midwicket. It’s Bhuvi’s legcutter. Game on!
2nd over: England 2-0 (Roy 1, Buttler 1) Kohli throws the ball to Hardik, essentially his fifth bowler. Big call. But it works, Buttler off the mark first ball to square leg before Roy absorbs a couple of further dots. He’s finally off the mark out to deep midwicket, a single from his ninth ball. We are getting close-up shots of the dew and, according to Nasser, it looks worse than at any stage during this series – interesting. How will that influence Kohli’s rotations? Another two dots to finish, Buttler unable to get Hardik away, swinging and missing. Two runs from the first two overs – wow.
John Starbuck is back: “Even if the Laws were changed to include a one run penalty for every minute over the scheduled time, the batting side would create their own delays, gaming the system even more. What else would you expect?”
Yep, agreed. And Mark Hooper holds the alternative perspective.
“A solution for long T20 games: just let them carry on, we get to watch the cricket for longer!”
1st over: England 0-0 (Roy 0, Buttler 0) Bhuvneshwar starts with one of his lovely hooping outswingers, Roy leaving well alone. From a similar channel, he’s forced to defend before miscuing to the men on the circle on the off-side, then edging from the bottom of the blade to Pant. This is an excellent over. Can Bhuvi complete a maiden? He can, with a ball gets big on Roy. Such a classy operator.
The players are back. Bhuvi v Roy: two of the best. Strap in. PLAY!
“Hi Adam.” Hi, Michael from New York. “A solution for the fact that the games take so long: Give both teams a fixed time for the innings —say 90 mins. At the end of each innings (or at different points during the innings) add one run for each minute over. Do not count time used during reviews.”
There are a number of ways to do this. But, is it in the interests of those selling ads to wrap the game up on time? Probably not. Yes, some of that innings was the third umpire but most of it wasn’t.
Archer finishes with 4/33. They’re his best T20i figures. Along with Wood (1/25), the England pace department did the trick once again. Jordan was expensive, likewise Sam Curran. Rashid went for 39 as well but picked up Kohli with a superb wrong’un so he’s excused.
England require 186
20th over: India 185-8 (Thakur 10, Bhuvneshwar 0) Two balls left and Archer sends down a wide, given on the basis of height. Looks like a bad call live but the replay serves the umpire well. Thakur hammers the next, down through cow corner where there is a gap – four! Archer finishes with a slower ball full toss, he can’t get it away. And that’s that. India have done well there. This should be fun.
WICKET! Sundar c Rashid b Archer 4 (India 179-8)
Catching practice down to third man, steered down the throat of Rashid. But Sundar did get a boundary from the only other ball he faced, squeezed out fine off the bottom of his bat. The third umpire is taking a look to make sure there’s no contact between Rashid’s back boot and the boundary sponge but there’s no conclusive evidence of that so the catch stands. That took 20-odd replays.
WICKET! c Malan b Archer 37 (India 174-7)
The end of a super little innings from Shreyas, his 18-ball stay coming to an end when picking out deep square leg with a clip.
19th over: India 174-6 (Shreyas 37, Thakur 4) Clever from Thakur, getting low to steer down to third man, played so well that it beat the sweeper down on the rope for that very shot. It’s but a small blemish on Wood’s fine overall figures, finishing with 4-1-25-1.
WICKET! Hardik c Stokes b Wood 11 (India 170-6)
Ben Stokes, outstanding. On the edge of the circle at extra cover, he had to put in a full-stretch dive to reach Hardik’s slap and so he did, dragging in the chance with just his left hand. It comes from the fifth ball of Wood’s over, which has only gone for three runs so far.