England secured a thrilling five-wicket victory in the second T20I against India in Cardiff on Friday (July 6) to set up the decider on Sunday.
After being put into bat, India lost Rohit Sharma (5), Shikhar Dhawan (10) and the centurion of last match KL Rahul (6) within first 5 overs. At one stage, the Men in Blue were reeling at 22 for 3 before skipper Virat Kohli (47 runs off 38 balls) along with Suresh Raina (27 runs off 20 balls) bailed the team out of trouble with a 57-run partnership.
MS Dhoni (32 runs off 24 balls) and Hardik Pandya (12 runs off 10 balls) scored 22 runs in the final over of the innings to propel India to a competitive total of 148/5 in 20 overs.
In reply, England's swashbuckling openers Jos Buttler (14 off 12 balls) and Jason Roy (15 off 12 balls) got out cheaply to Umesh Yadav but Alex Hales was determined to do well. Despite wickets tumbling from the other end, Hales (58* off 41 balls) kept his nerves and guided the hosts home with two balls to spare.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly has assessed the defeat, saying: "They didn't make enough runs. You cannot win a match by posting a score of 148. England bowled well, the surface was different from Manchester, as there was more grass and it carried a lot of pace, which played to England's advantage. Kuldeep and Chahal leaked 64 runs and that's why they won. You expect England to make a comeback in England. It's a challenging series, the fight will be worth it and surely the same can be expected in the ODIs."
Kuldeep, who had claimed an astonishing fifer (5 for 24) in India’s thumping 8-wicket win at Old Trafford on Tuesday, went wicketless in Cardiff and conceded 34 runs in his 4 overs.
Ganguly picked Dhawan’s run-out as the turning point of the match while he also credited the host's batsmen for doing their homework to combat India’s wrist spinners.
"It's a T20 match. You have to play shots to score runs. Shikhar Dhawan's run-out was the turning point of the match. He plays well in these conditions but he should have returned to the crease. After losing three early wickets, India felt the pressure cause Kohli and Raina had to rebuild. As I said, England bowled well. Plunkett had a poor show at Manchester but returned the favours at Cardiff. Willey is an asset for England as he can bat and bowl. It was a good comeback by England. They improved their game as they could tackle Kuldeep and Chahal," Dada remarked.
Ganguly also suggested Kuldeep and Chahal focus on the series decider in Bristol. However, he feels that the Indian batsmen need to score big to make the duo effective.
"Like how every batsman has a rough day at work, so did these two (Kuldeep and Chahal). In a 20-over match, it's not always going to be when Kuldeep picks up three or five wickets in every match. He should forget about his performance in Cardiff and should focus on Bristol. For Kuldeep and Chahal to apply pressure on the team, India need to score runs, even if they start the match slow. Taking into consideration about Bristol's field, there will be pressure on the bowlers," Sourav asserted.
When asked to pick the favorites for the decider, Ganguly remained a bit diplomatic and went onto say that if he was the England skipper, he would ask the curators to keep grass on the wicket to favor the seamers.
"Anyone can win. Both captains love to chase. The toss will be crucial and you have to keep in mind that it's a day match, not a night. You have to keep in mind the conditions. If I was Eoin Morgan, I would want the curators to keep grass on the wicket as the pacers can bowl well and can negate Kuldeep and Chahal. But if India start well, they can mount pressure on them," Sourav Ganguly concluded.