Jos Buttler hit a brilliant 83 as England beat India by eight wickets on Tuesday to take a 2-1 lead in their five-match Twenty20 series.
Virat Kohli’s 77-run blitz saw India to 156/6 at the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad which was kept empty because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in India.
Buttler carried his bat through the innings, smashing four sixes and five fours, to guide England to 158 for two with 10 balls to spare.
Jonny Bairstow contributed an unbeaten 40 – taking him past 1,000 runs in T20 internationals – to give England an emphatic win in captain Eoin Morgan’s 100th T20I.
Buttler attacked India’s pace and spin bowlers from the start, hitting 93-metre sixes off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal over the boundaries in the world’s biggest cricket stadium.
“Sometimes people don’t expect me to attack the spinners so I thought I would like to try to take it on,” said Buttler.
“Chahal is a fantastic bowler and I have had some good battles against him but it was nice to chance my arm a bit today.”
He singled out his first six off Chahal as “the one that got me up and running and gave me confidence to take the game on even more”.
Morgan won a crucial toss. The side that has batted first has lost every game so far.
The fourth match of the series is on Thursday at the same venue. The last two matches will also be played without fans.
Kohli plundered 49 runs off the last 17 balls he faced but India still only managed a below par total because of an early collapse.
Mark Wood took three key wickets on his return to the England side even though he could not douse the Indian captain’s fireworks.
After a foot injury kept him out of the second match – which India won to level the series – Wood claimed openers Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, as well as Shreyas Iyer, as India initially struggled to find runs.
Kohli was indomitable however, smashing four sixes and eight fours in his 46-ball bash at the world’s biggest cricket stadium that was eerily empty.
He put on 70 for the fifth wicket with Iyer, who contributed only nine.
Kohli and India ended up ruing a poor powerplay and then the bizarre run out of Rishabh Pant, who had made 25 valuable runs from 20 balls.
Kohli had taken an easy two runs off Sam Curran but, while Pant seemed content to rest there, Kohli darted down for a third, leaving his partner flailing to reach safety.
Eoin Morgan won the toss on his 100th match as England’s T20 captain and put India in to bat, with dew expected to make bowling difficult in the second innings.
England’s pace attack started well with Wood taking the openers and Chris Jordan claiming Ishan Kishan in a crucial three-over spell.
Indian authorities ordered the final three matches of the five-game series to be played behind closed doors because of rising coronavirus numbers in major cities.
What the captains said
Eoin Morgan: “When you look at conditions tonight, Adil started well and when the pacers came on, the carry that we saw was a bit of a surprise for us. I thought the first half of our bowling was exceptional. The wicket stayed similar, throughout all the games, and if you lose early wickets at the top that raises a question. It’s just a dynamic of T20 cricket. There is no need. Jos is a world-class player and he has averaged upwards of 50 and striking at 150 at the top. There’s very little you have to say to Jos. He’s been in incredible form and he’s a great leader within our group. I was nearly in tears getting my cap from Buttler. He’s a great friend of mine and our families are close. His words warmed my heart and I’m very grateful for that.”
Virat Kohli: “If my innings helps the team, then for sure, I’m happy. You don’t want to play knocks that don’t help the team. The pitch was tacky, but they had extra pace and hit good areas. The key was partnerships and we had one little partnership. Even Hardik in the first half, it was not easy to hit through the line. The case was to get set and get us to a decent total. Well, I was going through a lean patch two games ago. Rahul’s a champion player and he’ll continue to be one of our main batters along with Rohit. T20 is an instinctive game and once a few shots come off... The toss is a factor, but if you lose the toss, embrace what has been asked from you. The England bowlers attacked right lines and lengths and with their pace they became more potent. We lacked intensity in the second half. We want to give Hardik a bit more responsibility with the ball; we know what he can do with the bat.”
(Quotes courtesy bcci.tv match-center)
(With AFP inputs)