It was one bold shot to get off the block. By the time Jofra Archer’s short ball was inches from his neck, Suryakumar Yadav had positioned inside the line with his left leg off the ground. Without an ounce of hesitation, Yadav shifted his balance to lift the 143 kph delivery over the fine leg fence.
Debut innings blues? What’s that?
If starting his international career with a six (first for any Indian T20I player) off one of the fastest bowlers on the planet was audacious, India’s latest No. 3 T20I batsman showed total control with his second boundary. Against Mark Wood, even faster than Archer, Yadav stood straight to punch the slightly wide delivery to the cover fence in the fifth over.
That confident run would continue till the 14th over and result in a 28-ball half-century. Yadav departed on 57 (31b) but Shreyas Iyer’s heavy metal treatment (37, 18b) of England pacers ensured India’s total shot up to 185/8–their highest in the series so far.
In reply, England fought hard till the end before losing steam to finish on 177/8, India winning the game by eight runs. The series is level at 2-2 with the final T20I to be played on Saturday.
Amid another below average show by Indian openers Rohit Sharma (12) and KL Rahul (14), Yadav’s 360-degree batting approach came as a breath of fresh air. He was sent a spot above Virat Kohli, who came in at No.4, and got off the hook right from the first ball.
The 30-year-old Yadav had waited long for his maiden international. He got his international cap in the second T20I but did not get the chance to show his batting skills. He was left out of the third T20I. So, when his time finally came after Sharma fell cheaply in the fourth over, Yadav took off in a hurry. His first two shots across the ropes in international cricket reflected exactly that.
After making bold statements against Archer and Wood, Yadav targetted England’s only spinner, Adil Rashid, in the seventh over. He swept a low full toss for four to the square boundary and then danced down the track to lodge Rashid over extra cover the next ball.
Yadav’s array of shots and the angles he can hit, which has been on display in the Indian Premier League for the last three years, pushed India to dream big in the must-win tie. His presence meant that Virat Kohli’s 1-run stay and a lull in the middle overs (from 9-11), which went without any boundary, didn’t cause concern.
Yadav stepped up the tempo again by targetting Rashid with a couple of fours in the 12th over, becoming the fifth Indian to score a T20I half-century in his first innings. He even went after left-arm pacer Sam Curran, hitting his third six with a ramp shot off the first ball of the 14th over.
Out or not out?
But while attempting a similar shot off the next ball, a cleverly positioned Dawid Malan caught Yadav running in from the fine leg. Replays showed the England fielder might have grassed it while diving forward to scoop up the attempt. The third umpire Virender Sharma deemed the replays inconclusive as he stuck to on-field umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan’s soft signal, which was out. The camera angles didn’t help clarify if the attempt had been clean.
That was the end of Yadav, but Pant (30, 23b) and Iyer carried forward the momentum. If England pacers had been dominating the hosts so far, the fourth T20I presented a different scenario. Pant and Iyer took on Chris Jordan, and Iyer did not let the intensity drop against Mark Wood too.
Iyer, who has been pushed down the order at No. 6 in this series, took no time to settle in, clobbered anything within his arc before being caught by Malan at deep mid-wicket off Archer. The England pacer finished with his best-ever T20I figures of 4/33.
This England line-up has been chase-masters throughout the series. Their two wins so far came that way, so the hosts could not relax. Their worries increased when Jason Roy and Jos Buttler looked like getting into the mood of going for the big shots in the third over by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The seasoned pacer did Buttler in with a slower ball as he edged to Rahul while going for a flick. Fellow opener Roy (40, 27b) kept going hard against Washington Sundar. Dew too had its effect as the bowlers, particularly spinners, seemed to struggle for grip. It was evident in Sundar’s figures of 4-0-52-0.
The beauty of this England line-up is they have a number of big-hitting batsmen. So, when Malan departed without making an impact and Roy’s mistimed pull off Hardik Pandya was scooped up by Yadav, it was time for Ben Stokes (46, 23b) to take centre-stage.
But a devastating 17th over from Shardul Thakur put paid to England’s hopes with Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan falling off successive balls.
With 23 needed off the last six balls, Archer started with a six and a four against Thakur, who also bowled two wides. But England still fell short.
By hindustan times