England suffered a heavy 50-run defeat in the first of the three-match T20I series against India. Hardik Pandya put in a brilliant all-round performance to seal the game after Rohit Sharma opted to bat first at Southampton. After a decent batting contribution from most of the batters, the Indian pace bowlers were clinical in their defence of a par score. The win was Sharma’s 13th consecutive T20I win as India’s captain – no captain has won more than 12. We look back at some of the talking points and stats from the match.
Hardik Pandya – The MVP
Pandya walked in to bat in the 9th over with India 89-3. The top order had laid a good foundation and Pandya capitalised on that start. Off his 30th ball, Pandya reached his first T20I fifty and played a vital role in taking India to a par total. He continued to provide the momentum in India’s innings when wickets kept falling at the other end.
Pandya’s biggest impact came from his bowling. A much fitter-looking Pandya bowled with a nippy pace and hurried the batters. His pace proved too much for Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, whom he removed in his first over. As a result of his smart bowling, Pandya returned his career-best figures of 4/33.
Pandya’s batting has seldom been questioned, but his bowling has always been the talking point whenever he has played in recent years. A lot of the question marks are a result of his fitness issues, more so his troubled back, which hasn’t allowed him to contribute more with the ball. A fit and firing Pandya is what any captain leading India would want at their disposal.
Chris Jordan produced an excellent spell
The run rate for India was 9.9 RPO. England used seven bowlers, of which four had an economy rate in excess of 10 RPO. Two other bowlers had ER of 8.5 RPO or more but amongst all this chaos, Chris Jordan held his head high and was the standout bowler from England.
Jordan not only picked up two wickets, but he did so at an ER of just 5.75 RPO. The key to his success was his lengths. Jordan’s career ER in T20I is 8.61, but that’s a result of him being guilty of bowling too full, at times. In this match, Jordan didn’t bowl a single fuller-length ball. With the ground being decent-sized, he was able to bowl heavy lengths with pace on the ball. His tight lines combined with the hard length made it difficult for Indian batters to get under the ball.
Dream start from Indian bowlers
199 on that flat Southampton pitch was an achievable score. However, the Indian opening bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Arshdeep Singh produced a swing bowling masterclass for ages. Between them, they conceded just 12 runs in the first three overs and removed Jos Buttler for a golden duck. It was the third time Kumar dismissed Buttler in five innings.
The key to their opening spell was the swing they generated in the first two overs. Kumar and Singh found 3.1° of swing in their respective first overs. According to CricViz, no team opening the bowling with two fast bowlers ever found more swing in a T20I. In the process, Singh’s first over in international turned out to be a maiden bowled at Jason Roy, one of world cricket’s most destructive batters.
Kumar bowled three overs for 10 runs in the Powerplay, setting the tone for the innings with a brilliant inswinger to bowl Buttler. According to CricViz, Kumar is now the only pace bowler with an economy rate of less than 6 RPO in powerplays (minimum 50 wickets).
India had a perfect game with bat and ball, but their fielding was extremely sloppy. They dropped six catches; DK dropped three, while Suryakumar Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Deepak Hooda dropped a catch each. India would want to tighten that aspect of their game as that’s the only controllable factor any player has in the game. England would want to brush this match aside as an aberration and come back strongly for the two matches over the weekend.