So that’s what it’s come to. If we expect Ashok Dinda and Parvinder Awana to shoulder the burden of leading the pace attack whenever Zaheer Khan decides to call it a day, then God save Indian cricket. The Kolkata-Delhi combo, supposedly India’s next new-ball pair, were shown their place by a motley crew of batsmen who would find it difficult to even make the second XI of an IPL side.
England, powered by a game-changing knock from Michael Lumb and an unbeaten match-winning 49 by Eoin Morgan, chased down the 178-run target in a last-ball thriller. And it was only fitting that Morgan, the best batsman of the evening, dismissed Dinda, the worst bowler, for a straight six to clinch the second T20 game for England.
Despite having 178 runs to play with, the medium pacers made a mess of the whole game, together giving away a staggering 86 runs off eight overs. Both were no less awful in the outfield, with Awana dropping a sitter offered by Alex Hales (then on seven).
Dinda had nine runs to play with in the last over, and he kept his cool till the last ball. But with three needed off one, he went for the yorker. Dinda is no Malinga and instead of hitting the stumps, the ball hit the glass facade of the gigantic 194-seater media box! It reminded one of Javed Miandad’s six off Chetan Sharma in Sharjah years ago. If not for Yuvraj Singh’s three wickets, India would never have been in the game.
Earlier, India’s innings was characterised by periods of surge sandwiched between a rather quiet nine-over stretch. While Virat Kohli stamped his class with a whirlwind 38 during the powerplay overs, it was MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina who propelled India to 177/8.
Kohli’s knock was studded with those trademark whips and crisp cover drives. The Delhi dasher fell leg-before to Stuart Meaker, and his dismissal coincided with the start of a dormant phase in the game. The hosts managed a mere 55 runs in the next nine overs and it had a lot to do with Gautam Gambhir’s slow-motion 17, Yuvraj Singh’s early departure and Rohit Sharma’s careless shot selection. The Mumbaikar had a wonderful opportunity to stamp his authority on the game — and he looked good for a big one — but that urge to play a needless slog-sweep did him, and his stumps, in.
By the end of the 15th over, India had scored no more than 114/5. And that’s when Dhoni and Raina decided to turn it on. While Raina carted Stuart Meaker for a six and three fours in the 16th, Dhoni took on Jade Dernbach by hoisting the burly medium-pacer for a six off the first and last deliveries of the 17th. In all, India garnered 63 off the last five overs. And if not for England’s brilliant fielding, especially near the ropes, Dinda and Awana would have had at least 25 more runs to play with. But when you have such a mediocre attack, any total is a small total.