In the most six-friendly ground in the country, leggie snares six wickets to inflict series win over England.
The M Chinnaswamy Stadium has a reputation for sixes. Big sixes. It’s a small ground and batsmen send the ball soaring into the stands with ease. Even mishits more often than not sail over the rope. According to a stat by Star Sports, which was flashed on screen in the pre-match show, no other venue in the world sees more maximum’s than this. You have got to feel for the bowlers for the violence they have to put up with.
On Wednesday at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Suresh Raina unleashed five mighty hits; Yuvraj Singh nailed three in one over; and the cleanest and longest came off KL Rahul’s bat landing on the roof. But the mightiest ‘six’ of the evening was produced by a bowler, Yuzvendra Chahal, as he took six wickets for 25 runs – the third-best figures in T20Is – to pull the rug from under England’s feet. In a spectacular collapse, England lost eight wickets for eight runs to crash to a 75-run defeat.
The feat came at what is Chahal’s homeground in the IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore mostly pride themselves in their batting firepower. And for good reasons too. After all they have Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle in their ranks. Among them they have scored mountains of runs and have been cited as the main reason behind the team’s impressive run in the past two seasons: making the playoffs in 2015 and finishing as runners-up last year. But the diminutive Chahal almost invisibly made an equally significant contribution. He has made the handicap that the Chinnaswamy imposes on a bowler into his strength. Rather than bowling defensively, the leg-spinner invites the batsmen to hit him.
“I plan that batsmen will want to go for their shots because it’s a small ground, so I have a chance for wickets. I bowl a fuller length, so I have a chance for lbws if they miss the sweep and reverse-sweep,” he said after being adjudged man of the match in the series decider. The Haryana native does get hit, but he also gets wickets. In the last two IPL seasons, he polished off 44 wickets. “It always feels like home. I’ve bowled in the Powerplay before in the IPL, and Virat has confidence in me that I can do that.”
Having set England an imposing 203 for the match and series, Kohli gave the new ball to Chahal. Promptly, Jason Roy reverse-swept him for a six. But Chahal struck two balls later with a fullish delivery that Sam Billings, looking to drive across the line, edged onto his boot, and it ballooned towards Raina at first slip. The visitors made a swift recovery and led by Roy, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan, they took the total to 117/2 in 13 overs when Kohli brought back Chahal for the second spell.
After keeping the batsmen quiet for a couple of balls, Chahal forced Morgan to swat a googly against the turn. He could only top-edge it to midwicket, where debutant Rishabh Pant took a diving catch. Chahal then removed Root with a flipper that rapped him on the pad. There was an uproar over Root’s leg-before dismissal in the last match that led to the umpire C Shamsuddin recusing himself from on-field duties in Bangalore. However, there was no doubt in Anil Chaudhary’s mind that this was plumb. It precipitated an English collapse we had seen too often in the Test series. Only the acceleration of the fall still took your breath away. Jasprit Bumrah removed Jos Buttler in the next over, while Chahal returned to take three more wickets in the next over to cap a scarcely believable second spell that read 2 overs-6 runs-5 wickets.
It didn’t start out to be a good evening for Kohli. After losing the toss, he lost the bandwidth with KL Rahul and was run out in the third over to leave the packed Chinnaswamy stunned. In came Suresh Raina at No.3. After a rather insipid performance in the first two matches of the series, the pressure was on Raina to justify a) his place in the team, b) his promotion to No.3 after Virat Kohli had decided to open the innings. For his part, Kohli said before the series Raina could “still had a lot to offer”, but the onus was on him to grab the opportunity. Often T20s can’t be a perfect comeback vehicle for batsmen because there aren’t simply enough overs. But with 17 more to go, Raina couldn’t have complained time was in short supply. It was a scrappy knock early with lots of heaves and misses, uppish shots not finding fielders and top edges just about sailing over the boundary. But he found his range. Soon he was whipping the pacers off his hips over fine-leg and dancing down the track and smoking the spinners behind the sight screen.
When he slog-swept leg-spinner Adil Rashid over mid-wicket, Raina raised his bat for the first time in international cricket in the past 15 months, a wretched period most of which he spent out of the team. For a bonafide shortest format batsman that he his, his 45-ball 63 was also his first T20I fifty in six years.
T20I stats have a tendency of catching you by surprise. Part of the reason is that unlike Tests and ODIs, the international version of cricket’s slambang format, outside of the World T20s, is overshadowed by glitzy leagues. The bilateral series have little relevance or recall value. So many statistical anomalies go unnoticed. Until they are corrected.
After Raina, Dhoni also set a record straight, scoring his first half-century in the format. FIRST! In a fabled career across formats – especially the shorter ones – he had seen all and done pretty much all, but this was one box that, as if by oversight, was left unchecked. It was understandable though, as he has mostly batted lower down the order. And not unsurprisingly it came on the back of a promotion up the order as Dhoni was sent ahead of Yuvraj Singh.
He shared two fifty-run partnerships with Raina and Yuvraj and set India up for 200. It was a daunting task and England needed a lot of maximums to salvage something out of long Indian winter.
But they fell in a heap to the one who has ‘6’ written on his back — Chahal.
Courtesy: The Indian Express