There’s just something about Trent Bridge. Just when you think a target is safe, some batter saunters out and makes a mockery of logic. Last month it was Jonny Bairstow against New Zealand. Here it was very nearly Suryakumar Yadav, who unleashed a blistering 117 from 55 balls with a blade seemingly laced with nitroglycerin, but it was not enough to overhaul a formidable England total of 215 for seven as Jos Buttler’s side enjoyed a consolation victory in this third Twenty20 international.
At the start of the day’s play, England’s former white ball captain, Eoin Morgan, likened the pitch to concrete. Others may prefer to call it a road but that does the 22 yards of manicured turf a disservice. This is a highway to hell for bowlers. A place where even the best-laid plans are flattened.
From the moment he first took guard to the moment he toe-ended Moeen Ali straight to Phil Salt at long-off, Yadav was in the driver’s seat. A lofted ramp-drive off Richard Gleeson for six over deep third, a wrist-flick over cover off Chris Jordan, a one-kneed swipe into the stands through the on-side off David Willey. This was stroke play our ancestors would battle to comprehend.
He almost reeled in the target of 216 all on his own. Were it not for a spluttering opening five overs in which India’s top three were dismissed with only 31 on the board, his would have been the telling contribution in the match.
Given the result, that honour must instead go to Dawid Malan whose 77 from 39 balls carried his team to a competitive total. A much-maligned figure in England’s recent history, his previous ascent to the top of the T20 batting rankings often felt like a quirk of the metrics rather than a true reflection of his abilities. No matter. His first 50-plus score in this format in 12 innings included five sixes and six fours and ensured he remains in contention for selection once England’s heavier hitters return.
He had some help from Liam Livingstone, unbeaten at the end with 42 off 29, and India’s sloppiness in the field. Harshal Patel shelled a return catch after deceiving Malan with a slower ball when the left-hander was on four. Then Kohli made a mess of a routine catch in the deep from Livingstone, inexplicably jumping into the point of contact as if he were a rugby full-back under a high ball.
But that’s the sort of luck a batting unit earns when it treats the fall of a wicket like a drunk driver treats a pothole. This England side simply keeps the foot flat even as the chassis shakes.
Buttler and Jason Roy end the series with an aggregate score of 53 for six at an average of eight. Neither opener was at their belligerent best as Rohit Sharma rotated his bowlers after every over. Butler chopped on for 18 from an Avesh Khan slower ball and Roy’s 26-ball 27 came to an ugly end as he feathered Umran Malik behind from a wild swipe away from his body.
When 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 with Harry Brook and Chris Jordan offering cameos of 19 and 11 respectively.
India’s chase stumbled out the blocks and Rishabh Pant was the first to go seven balls in. An uncontrolled hack off Reece Topley was caught by Butler behind the stumps via an inside edge off the back leg. Nine balls later Kohli pinged Willey straight to Roy at extra cover. The former India captain looked in good touch and had to drag himself off the stage after another failure to launch with only 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 their zeal.
But Yadav’s pyrotechnics made a game of it and almost snatched an unlikely win. Shreyas Iyer chipped in with 28 from 23 but regular wickets put the breaks on as England held on for a 17-run win to close the series deficit to 2-1.