Ahmedabad, March 20 (IANS) Pacer Shardul Thakur took his second consecutive three-wicket haul while Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a miserly spell, taking two wickets, after captain Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 80, to help India beat England in the fifth and final T20 International by 36 runs, and win the series 3-2 here on Saturday.
Rohit Sharma, who smashed 64 off 34 balls (4x4s, 5x6s), was the other star for India while Dawid Malan’s 46-ball 68 and Jos Buttler’s 34-ball 52 went in vain in the floodlit game played without spectators due to Covid-19.
Bhuvneshwar was adjudged the Man of the Match while Kohli, who aggregated 231 runs in five matches at an average of 115.50 and at a strike rate of 147.13, was adjudged the Man of the Series.
England’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss backfired as the pitch turned out to be a perfect strip for batting. Kohli (52 balls, 7x4s, 2x6s), playing as an opener, and Sharma gave a perfect platform to later order batsmen as they made 94 runs in almost nine overs for opening wicket.
After Ben Stokes bowled Sharma, Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav (32, 17 balls, 3x4s, 2x6s) added 49 runs for the second wicket.
India scored 224 for two wickets in 20 overs — their highest score against England.
In reply, England made 188 for eight wickets in 20 overs, with Malan scoring 68 (9x4s, 2x6s) and Buttler making a rapidfire 52 (2x4s, 4x6s). But the asking rate proved to be a tough task for the other batsmen and they caved under pressure.
England never really looked into the game, barring the Buttler-Malan association. They began poorly as Bhuvneshwar dealt the initial blow by dismissing Jason Roy off only the second ball of the innings. Buttler and Malan then repaired the damage and raised 130 priceless runs for the second wicket.
That turned out to be the only meaningful attempt at the chase, as wickets fell at regular intervals after Bhuvneshwar broke the second-wicket stand by dismissing Buttler.
India and England now go into the last leg of the series, three One-day Internationals in Pune beginning on March 23.
Brief scores: India: 224/2 wickets in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 80 not out, Rohit Sharma 64, Hardik Pandya 39 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 32) beat England: 188 for 8 wkts in 20 overs (Dawid Malan 68, Jos Buttler 52, Shardul Thakur 3/45, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/15) by 36 runs