After bullying India’s slower bowlers in middle-phase, England got bamboozled when pacers unleashed slower deliveries at death as they lost the game from the driver’s seat. Batting first, India ended with a total of 185 runs, headlined by Suryakumar Yadav’s dream debut and Iyer’s brilliant cameo.
Suryakumar Yadav is the real deal
Given how well Jofra Archer has bounced the Indian batsmen in the ongoing series, to pull off an audacious hook shot like the way Suryakumar Yadav did on his first ball was staggering. He wasn’t bogged down one bit by the international stage. He was in his own element. He was opening the bat face and getting a four. He was going on backfoot and punching and smashing the ball for boundaries. The sweep and the trademark inside-out drive was out. He just kept on taking down the English bowlers with minimal risk.
He looked like a natural at the role and hardly had to do anything extra to score at a rapid rate. Which is unique in Indian cricket. Not to forget to start your career at 30, with a volatile management that India have, a do-or-die game, Suryakumar just didn’t allow anything to get to him. And that bodes well for India as they have had many collapses in big games. And Surya, a domestic veteran, an IPL star, showed he will make up a blockbuster movie when given chances as he’s a big part of a champion side and knows how to shine when the going gets tough.
Shreyas ‘undroppable’ Iyer
There is no denying to the fact that Shreyas Iyer is far from an ideal T20 player for India given they already have similar batsmen like him in the team with many enticing options on offer. But in this series, at least, he has done everything the team has asked him to. He has rebuilt the innings, finished one game and today, played the role of an aggressor. Now, one can argue that rebuilding for an anchor is not a big deal. But playing a 18-ball-37 run-knock, coming in the 14th over, is a great deal. Iyer looked on fire from ball one today and the intent was evident as he collected two boundaries of the first three balls and there was no looking back for him.
There was a point in time when India must fancied Shreyas to face more balls ahead of a Rishabh Pant or a Hardik Pandya, not only because they weren’t at their best but also owing to the Mumbaikar looking worth a million bucks. From a dasher to an accumulator, he has changed his T20 batting but if he can do both, like this series, there will be merit in continuing with him even at 5 or 6, at least, for the time being.
Rishabh Pant fails to be dynamic
One of the main issues with India in T20 cricket has been one-dimensional middle-order batting, especially at the no.4-5 positions. Trying to take advantage of Rishabh Pant’s glorious run, India drafted the southpaw in the side for the ongoing series. But he has disappointed, barring the second game largely. His knock today exemplified his series – a slow start and then the failure of finishing with a flourish. In the middle-overs phase, Pant has batted at a strike-rate of 126.6, faced 32.8 percent dot deliveries and has hit only two sixes out of 64 balls he has faced.
He has tried to show the kind of responsibility that one needs to bat with in a Test or an ODI possibly. But that’s not the reason, he was picked, especially with India having a great depth in batting with Shardul Thakur batting as low as 9. He has batted like a Shreyas Iyer with the Mumbaikar already in the side rather than taking the aggressor’s role and striking it big in the middle-overs. With Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan playing blinders, and both capable enough to bat in the middle-order, pressure will be piling up on the youngster quicker than he realizes.
Hardik Pandya’s top notch bowling effort
As unfamiliar as it was opening the bowling and as hard as England tried to attack him, Hardik Pandya was hardly fussed about anything. He mixed up his pace brilliantly and used his batsman’s mind to play with the English batters to give merely five runs in his two powerplay overs. That too when Thakur and Sundar leaked a lot of runs initially to help India remain in the game.
Not only that, he also, post the powerplay, dismissed a dangerous looking Jason Roy, who was running away with the game at one point, with a good bouncer. Unlike the old days, he doesn’t go banging the pitch hard and mixes up his pace, line and length, and is hardly predictable
After the back surgery, he was hardly able to bowl and the efficiency with which he would return was under the scanner. Not only has Hardik been able to bowl his quota of four overs effectively, he also done brilliantly even under the pressure of a five-man bowling attack, which proves his indispensable value to the side for the nth time.