Eoin Morgan and Jade Dernbach, England’s matchwinners in their jaunt to Ireland earlier in the week, once again produced their one-day best as England scraped home by six wickets in a tense Twenty20 against India at Old Trafford. Morgan made 49 from 27 balls to break the back of a stiff 166-run target, after Dernbach’s array of slower balls and yorkers had stopped India’s big hitters in their tracks with career-best figures of 4 for 22 from 3.4 overs.
On a sluggish pitch, India chose to bat first and posted a competitive total of 165, thanks largely to an eye-catching 61 from 39 balls from the debutant Ajinkya Rahane. Rahul Dravid, in his first and last Twenty20 international appearance, smacked three consecutive sixes off Samit Patel to turn a previously laborious knock into a sprightly 31 from 21, while Suresh Raina put his miserable Test series to one side with a useful 33 from 19.
Dernbach and Morgan, however, produced the day’s most captivating performances, and thanks to their combined efforts, England appeared to have the game in the bag with 32 runs still required from the final 29 deliveries of the contest. However, an exceptional 19th over from Munaf Patel went for just three runs, as Patel smashed his bat in two with an attempted cover drive, before Ravi Bopara was suckered by Munaf’s line outside off and struggled to put bat on ball.
Needing ten from the final over, England then had a stroke of major fortune when umpire Rob Bailey erroneously called wide when Vinay Kumar pitched his first delivery just inside the tramlines. Suitably buoyed, Patel then squeezed a pair of fours through third man before sealing the match with a lofted drive over extra cover with three balls of the contest remaining.
England’s innings had started ignominiously when the debutant Alex Hales – whose only other slice of the action had been a juggled catch at long-on which deflected off his shoulder – was suckered by Praveen Kumar’s command of swing and pinned lbw for a second-ball duck. After three of their Powerplay overs England were floundering on 17 for 1, with a hyperactive Kevin Pietersen inside-edging their only boundary through third man, and they scarcely looked any more composed when Pietersen was dropped by a diving Parthiv Patel at third man.
Two balls later Craig Kieswetter found a thick edge for six off Munaf, and it wasn’t until Pietersen whistled a conventional pull through square leg that their innings really found its feet. Vinay was muscled expertly through the covers twice in four balls by Kieswetter, before R Ashwin’s first nine-ball over was bookended by two more Pietersen boundaries. At 58 for 1 after six, England were suddenly up and