Sport

England hang on for T20 win over India despite Suryakumar Yadav’s fireworks

On a lightning quick pitch and in the wake of two blistering knocks, Reece Topley’s three for 22 was the difference as England held their nerve to claim a 17-run win and hand Jos Buttler his first victory as white-ball captain.

Of the 11 players who turned their arm over, Topley was the only one who went at less than a run a ball on a surface that tilted the balance heavily in the batters’ favour. That he claimed the award for player of the match from the same contest in which Suryakumar Yadav hammered 117 from 55 balls only amplifies the impact he had on this game.

After Dawid Malan’s 77 from 39 balls and Liam Livingstone’s unbeaten 42 from 29 dragged England to a competitive score of 215 for seven, Topley removed India’s openers Rishabh Pant and Rohit Sharma for one and 11 respectively. And just as Yadav and Shreyas Iyer were threatening to make a mockery of their target in a fourth-wicket stand of 119, Topley returned to remove Iyer for 28 in the 16th over.

“You’ve got to ride the high when things fall your way,” Topley said when asked to sum up his display. “The game is pretty fickle and there are a lot of days when it doesn’t and you’ve got to trust your processes and keep delivering.”

The game began under blue skies and on a pitch the former England captain Eoin Morgan compared to concrete. Buttler won the toss and elected to bat first, forgoing his team’s preference for chasing.

The shift in approach did not yield the results he was looking for as both he and Jason Roy struggled to rediscover their form with Sharma rotating his bowlers after every over.

First Buttler chopped for 18 from an Avesh Khan slower ball and then Roy’s 26-ball 27 came to an ugly end when he feathered Umran Malik behind from a wild swipe away from his body.
First Buttler chopped for 18 from an Avesh Khan slower ball and then Roy’s 26-ball 27 came to an ugly end when he feathered Umran Malik behind from a wild swipe away from his body.

When Phil Salt was bowled for eight by Harshal Patel in the 10th over, England were on 84 but resisted the urge to consolidate. Malan and Livingstone gave the crowd their money’s worth in a counterattacking partnership of 84. They each rode their luck – Malan was dropped on four by Patel on his follow-through and Livingstone was shelled in the deep by Virat Kohli.

India’s chase stumbled out the blocks and Pant was the first to go seven balls in. An uncontrolled hack off Topley was caught by Buttler behind the stumps via an inside edge off the back leg. Nine balls later Kohli pinged David Willey straight to Roy at extra cover. The former Indian skipper looked in good touch and had to drag himself off the stage after another failure to launch with just 11 to his name.

When Sharma bunted Topley’s back of a length slower ball to Salt at deep midwicket England were well on top and the mostly Indian crowd had lost some of its zeal. Yadav’s pyrotechnics made a game of it and almost snatched an unlikely win. Sharma said it was “one of the best” Twenty20 innings he had seen.

Topley was equally complimentary. “He played some shots I hadn’t seen before,” England’s star bowler said. “It was a knock that deserved to be on the winning side, for sure. But us taking those early wickets kept the pressure on him and he kept hitting the ball over the place. But if we got his wicket or kept taking wickets at the other end we weren’t that far away.”

That is exactly what transpired. No other Indian batter reached 30 and when Yadav toe-ended Moeen Ali straight to Salt at long-off in the 19th over, the writing was on the wall.

England will take heart from this triumph. Some heavier hitters are set to return but three players hovering around the fringe proved that they can stand up when called upon.