Freddie Wilde analyses the strategies & tactics that shaped the third T20 international.
Both teams made big selections for this deciding T20 of the series. With Ben Stokes returning from injury England left out Joe Root to accommodate him – something Assistant Coach Paul Farbrace said they would not do at the start of the series. Dropping Root from the T20 team made sense. T20 batting is increasingly defined by attacking intent and execution and little else, Root is a wonderfully skilled batsman but he plays fewer attacking shots (52%) and has a lower run rate with attacking shots (9.42) than any of the batsmen in England’s squad. That is not to say Root’s international T20 career is over. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson have proven that it is possible to marry a classical technique and high intensity run-scoring in T20. If Root can find the time to develop his attacking game, his technical proficiency and versatility will be an asset for England in the shortest format.
India’s big selection decision was to leave out the Man of the Match from the first T20 of the series in Manchester, Kuldeep Yadav and hand a debut to the seam bowler Deepak Chahar. At the toss Kohli cited the green-looking nature of the pitch and a significant wind blowing from one end of the ground as the reason for leaving out Kuldeep. The change meant India had two specialist new ball bowlers: Chahar and Umesh Yadav and that India had gone all-in on the green pitch providing them with assistance early on.
It very quickly became apparent that this was a terrific pitch for batting. England raced to 73 for 0 by the end of the Powerplay – their second highest six over total ever. The ball seamed and swung less than the global average for the first six overs and all lengths – full, average and short – cost at least 10.50 runs per over as Jos Buttler and Jason Roy drove and pulled with impudence. India had read the pitch wrong and as they entered the middle overs they had only one of their two wrist spinners to call on.
HARDIK PULLS IT BACK
Fortunately for India Hardik Pandya managed to recover from his first over going for 22 and put in a match changing spell in the middle overs. Hardik’s first over began with four consecutive boundaries – three of them from balls banged in short. After that rocky start Hardik pushed his length up and instead targeted a mid-range length which proved far more effective. Hardik’s two over second spell cost just ten runs and took two wickets. Having haemorrhaged the flow of runs in the middle overs – with assistance from Yuzvendra Chahal whose average speed of 90.47 kph was the highest of his international career – Hardik was rewarded with two wickets in the eighteenth over when he completed his quota with England’s tail looking to take on his difficult in-between lengths. Hardik’s fightback masked the astonishing absence of Kuldeep.
Hardik and Chahal certainly deserve credit for regaining control but that England only managed to turn 97 for 1 after 9 overs into 198 for 9 was partly a consequence of the questionable shot selection of Roy, Hales and Liam Plunkett – all caught behind attempting cute late cuts. On a belting pitch for batting basic power down the ground was a better option. Roy can at least claim to have been duped by a clever slower ball from Chahar.
England’s pace bowlers didn’t bowl brilliantly – the 35% of balls wide outside off stump to the right-handers was well above the global average of 17% and made building pressure difficult; but India’s batting was utterly sensational. India, exactly like England, attacked 67% of their deliveries, but unlike England who played a false shot (edged or missed) to 21% of their deliveries; India played just six false shots in their entire innings. Typically, a team who plays 67% attacking shots would play 15% false shots; India’s false shot percentage of 5.2% represents a stunning performance of controlled aggression.
FIELDING ENGLAND’S ONLY SOLACE
All three wickets taken by England were a consequence of superb fielding: a diving catch at short fine leg from Jake Ball and two stunning catches from Chris Jordan.
Indeed, England’s fielding earned them +23.30 runs – making it the best fielding performance in T20 international cricket since the start of 2016.
Freddie Wilde is an analyst at CricViz. @fwildecricket