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How Haryana beat England

by Gaurav Sethi

On the face of it, both Yuzvendra Chahal, 26, and Amit Mishra, 34, play for Haryana, bowl leg spin, and speak in Hindi in their post-match interviews. It was Chahal who started and ended England's downfall. With a lot of help from his senior partner.
By now, Mishra should be used to finishing second best. Even on days when it appears he's the best Indian bowler on show, it doesn't show up that way.
Chahal celebrates the dismissal of Root during the 3rd T20I of the series between India and England. AP
Chahal celebrates the dismissal of Root during the 3rd T20I of the series between India and England. AP
Before Mishra started his spell, England were on course, 55/1 from 6 overs. At the Chinnaswamy, a playground of big chases and big runs, England had won the toss and chosen to chase; they believed the target was within their reach. In T20, more than any other form, tricky chases hinge far more on such belief – as being set in a mode is far more doable across 120 balls than it is across 300 balls or for that matter a day or more.
Mishra started his spell with a dot ball, followed by a wicket off his second ball. He followed that with three more dots, conceding one run off his first over. (Here, please remind yourself what dot balls are in a T20 game, in either Shastri or Sunny's voice – "gold dust", "priceless")
Man of the Match and Man of the Series, Chahal, bowled the second over of the England innings. His first ball was reverse swooped on by Jason Roy. How you make a comeback after such a shellacking is the thing of heroes – and in chess champion, Chahal, India had one. And it's not just his beard, awaiting some streaks of grey, that resemble that of a canny Russian grandmaster.
Chahal appeared to speak to himself in broken English, "Anatoly, no worries for me, worries only for English." By his third ball, a fuller one, Chahal had Sam Billings' bat, pad, boot, and heart in his mouth - and catch in Suresh Raina's hand.
There was no way all out pace upfront was ever going to stop England in T20s, the dare to bowl Chahal in the power play would have turned the match, turned the series.
By the end of his second over, Chahal's figures read 1/21. He bowled both his overs in the power play, the second and the fourth. Being hit for a six and a four did not deter him from tossing it up, slowly – Chahal kept at it, with his fuller, challenging lengths.
By the end of Mishra's second over, England's offensive had been launched in earnest, everything had to go, and that included Mishra too. England was 77/2 off 9 overs; Eoin Morgan had taken 12 off Mishra. His figures 1/14 off two overs.
While Mishra's third over – the 11th of the match – gave India some comfort, having gone for only six runs, with Root facing half the over; it was in Raina's next over that Morgan ripped right into India's seemingly big total.
Taking 20 off Raina, Morgan was in beastie mode, moods that belittle 200-plus totals in T20s at the Chinnaswamy.
And that's where the unsung match winner, Mishra bowled his final over, the crucial 13th of the innings. He bowled six off his seven deliveries (wide included) to Root for just one single. There was a comedy of errors with a dropped catch, but after the monster Raina over, conceding just three runs, and vitally, keeping Morgan off strike was pretty much the game-changer.
Mishra (4-0-23-1), somewhat forlorn, as he usually is, finished his spell and all but served England for finishing to Chahal (2-0-19-1).
The lines remained outside off and two balls and two singles later, Morgan went against the turn, top-edging to just Rishabh Pant (and not Pant and Yuvraj this time). Next ball, Root fell, and Chahal was on a hat-trick for the second time in the series.
In the blink of an eye, England lost eight wickets for eight runs. Chahal finished England with the best-ever figures by an Indian – 6/25.
Not heard was Chahal telling himself, "Mishra like Castle, he slides straight but Anatoly like Queen, he appreciates Castle for good services but he moves in for the kill himself. He does Check and he does Checkmate!"
And that's how it will be remembered, Chahal won India the match, Chahal won India the series. And the England batsmen were mere pawns, sacrificed at the altar of leg spin.

First published here

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