An Eoin Morgan led England T20 side – which had reached the final of the World T20 in India less than a year ago, almost winning it – crashed to a 2-1 series defeat against an Indian T20 side that was clearly not the superior side on paper. England have ended their long tour without a single series victory in all three formats – and just two individual wins (1 ODI and 1 T20) in both their 2-1 defeats, after a humbling 4-0 defeat in the test series. The England limited over teams are now one of the best sides in the world after the 2015 World Cup, but couldn’t quite conjure up the magic needed to get over some sort of vague mind block. What else can explain the loss of 8 wickets for 8 runs in 19 balls in a decider on the flattest batting track in the world?
Let’s take a look at the winning Indian players’ individual performances in the T20 series:
KL Rahul (6/10)
The young opener finally came good in the second T20 at Nagpur with a superb 71, after failing for four innings in a row. It was a winning performance, given that his bowlers put on a heroic show to defend a paltry 146. Rahul ended up second on the list of top Indian scorers in a series that was low-scoring for a change, with just 101 runs in three matches. He will need to be more consistent, because he is primed to partner Rohit Sharma in the upcoming Champions’ Trophy in England. And conditions are very different.
Virat Kohli (4/10)
How often do we see a series go by with three Kohli failures with the bat in a row? The law of averages meant that the best batsman on the planet had to endure a lean run, with two twenties and a cheap run out in the final match. Though this showed that despite his recent T20 superhuman heroics, his team doesn’t depend solely on him anymore – and his captaincy was aggressive, receptive and open to suggestions from seniors like Dhoni and Nehra. A good learning curve for him, though he will be happy to forsake the opener’s slot when Sharma is back.
Suresh Raina (6/10)
The good thing about Raina is that he comes out wanting to dominate the bowling, irrespective of whether his career is on the line or not. He was bowled around his legs by Ben Stokes in the first game, but came back strong with counter-attacking knocks in Nagpur and Bangalore. He will keep his place after this, and like fellow seniors Yuvraj and Dhoni, has given a good account of himself after being excluded from the other formats.
Yuvraj Singh (3/10)
He came good in the ODI matches, but batting at 4 in this T20 line-up is trickier than it looks. Two failures and a cameo at Bangalore – the team expects more of a clean hitter than this. This may well be the 35-year-old’s final T20 international, though he will continue to be picked in ODI games. Perhaps Dhoni at 4 and the young Rishabh Pant or even Kedar Jadhav at 5 is the way young India should be going now.
MS Dhoni (6/10)
At long last, Dhoni scored his first ever international T20 fifty – batting at 4 in the decider in Bangalore, helping the team reach 200. He kept well and seems to savour being the “vice captain” of sorts, always in the middle of the thinktank, insisting on guiding Kohli because of his experience. The pair has worked so far, though. And even though he struggles to finish off innings the way he used to, batting up the order is perhaps the freedom he needs – for whatever little time he will play this format.
Manish Pandey (3/10)
Pandey didn’t take his opportunity again, scoring just 33 runs in the first two T20 games before being dropped for Pant’s debut. The lack of stability and surety about his place in the side seems to have affected his confidence. He is now battling with Jadhav in ODIs and Pant in T20s for perhaps the most futile batting position in the order. To be fair, both the games he played were low-scoring.
Hardik Pandya (3/10)
Pandya didn’t have much to do, unable to finish effectively with the bat, and bowling just three overs in the series with the ball. Kohli relied on his specialists instead.
Amit Mishra (6/10)
A superb spell at Bangalore proved that he is always ready to play this format, and shouldn’t always be played as “backup” to R. Ashwin and Jadeja, given that he is more of a wicket-taker than they are. A 2-run over to a struggling Joe Root made Yuzvendra Chahal’s 3-wicket next over possible, as Mishra added pressure in both his matches with variety and skill, going for only 6 an over.
Parvez Rasool (4/10)
Just one match and a wicket meant that we’re still to have a better look at him in international cricket. But the fact that Kohli rotated his players in all three matches and still won it – shows considerable bench strength and ‘match-readiness’ for a team notoriously wary of changes.
Yuzvendra Chahal (8/10)
A 6-wicket burst in the final match meant that England went from 118/2 to 128 all out – the first Indian ever to take 6 wickets in a T20 match. The RCB bowler, also a former champion chess player, displayed great guts by bowling in the first five overs consistently, not afraid to toss it up, and showed character to come back from a botched run-out chance in Bangalore. 8 wickets for the series – easily the best bowler with his pace partner…
Jasprit Bumrah (7/10)
5 wickets at an economy rate of 6 meant that Bumrah was back at his best after an iffy ODI series. He won India the crucial second match with a phenomenal last over, where he took 2 wickets and defended 8 runs, giving them a chance to seal the series two days later. He is currently India’s best limited overs bowler.
Ashish Nehra (6/10)
Nehra was thrashed in the first match and went wicketless in the third, but his 3-for at Nagpur was one of the primary reasons the series stayed alive. He is also ‘unofficial’ bowling captain, constantly in Kohli’s ears about bowling changes and fields, despite his ageing body often letting him down while chasing the ball to the boundary. Nehra’s experience is perhaps the best ‘senior’ portion of this resourceful side.