Birmingham: India's long tour of England ended on a heartbreaking note as England held their nerves to pull off a thrilling three run victory in the only T20 International here Sunday.
Chasing a competitive 181 for seven, India needed 17 runs in the final over of the match but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni could not steer the team home in a contest that went down to the wire at Edbaston. India ended at 177 for five after England posted 180 for seven, thank to captain Eoin Morgan's 71 runs off 31 balls.
A positive for India was Virat Kohli (66 off 44) who struck his first fifty of the two-month long England tour on the final match of the series.
India made a poor start as they lost Ajinkya Rahane (8) in the second over. The batsman was bowled round his legs by Moeen Ali (1-31), trying to replicate his shot for six earlier in the over. It brought Kohli to the crease and along with Shikhar Dhawan (33), he put on 79 runs for the second wicket. The runs came off just 53 balls at 8.94 runs per over as the power-play brought 53 runs for the loss of a solitary wicket.
They had raised India's 50-run mark off the last ball of the sixth over itself and brought forth their 50-run partnership in the very next over, never easing off their attacking instinct. In fact their stand was the highest second wicket partnership for India against England in all the T20Is contested between the two teams so far.
At the half-way stage then, India were placed at 89/1 and would have liked things to continue as such. But Dhawan went for a wild swing off Chris Woakes (1-43) and was bowled. Kohli though carried on and in the 13th over then, got some relief after a horrid experience on this tour, reaching his half-century in 34 balls. He hit six fours and a six doing so, and would have liked to see his team home but couldn't do so.
But he did manage to set up the chase further for India, putting on another 42 runs for the third wicket with Suresh Raina (25 runs, 20 balls, 1 four, 1 six). These runs came off just 25 balls as India accelerated in demand of the climbing asking rate. This need did cost them though with Kohli looking to pull Steve Finn (1-28) but holing out in the deep in the 15th over.
Raina didn?t last long after that, bowled by a beautiful Yorker from Harry Gurey (1-29) in the next over. It was all left for skipper MS Dhoni (27 not out) and Ravindra Jadeja (6) to do, but the latter was run out cheaply in the 18th over.
Twenty six runs were required off the last two overs, and 17 off the last one, but with Dhoni at the crease, it didn't look that tall an order.
While Ambati Rayudu (3 not out) struggled under pressure, the captain was cool as ever as he took 12 runs off the first four balls of the 20th, but Woakes held his nerve to seal off England?s only second T20I win over India.
Earlier, captain Morgan's quickfire knock helped England post an imposing total.
Morgan took the Indian bowlers to cleaners in the death over as England amassed 81 runs from the last five overs. The other significant contributions came from Alex Hales (40 off 25), Joe Root (26) and Ravi Bopara (21 not out off 14).
Barring debut spinner Karn Sharma (1/28), the visiting team's bowlers proved expensive.
Morgan had won the toss and elected to bat first, making great use of the near-perfect playing conditions.
Debutant Jason Roy (8) and his opening partner Hales gave a quick start to England with 17 runs coming off the first over bowled by R Ashwin (0-37).
Indian skipper Dhoni then reverted to pace from both ends immediately. And it brought the first breakthrough for India, when Roy tried to clear the infield in the third over bowled by Mohammed Shami (3-38) and only managed to hit it to Ajinkya Rahane at cover.
Two balls later, Moeen Ali (0) was dismissed the same way, caught at cover by Rahane, only this time off Mohit Sharma (1-39). It brought Root to the crease and together with Hales he put on 48 runs for the 3rd wicket off only 40 balls. During this time, they scored at 7.20 runs per over, with the power-play yielding 46 runs for the loss of 2 wickets.
Root, when on 8 not out, benefitted from Ashwin's drop off Shami in the fifth over and afterwards the 50-run mark came up for England in the seventh over.
Hales had especially taken the attack to the Indian spinners, clearly enjoying the change in format, but he eventually fell to a slow bowler only. The credit for his dismissal though went to Rahane who took a stupendous catch as he ran in from long-on and covered quite some distance before completing a diving effort.
The dismissal also triggered Root's wicket three overs later, even as England were placed at 76 for three at the half-way mark of the innings. The centurion from Leeds fell to debutant Sharma, his mishit slog caught by Ambati Rayudu as the fielder ran in from deep midwicket.
This wicket brought Morgan and Jos Buttler (10) together and they put on 45 runs for the fifth wicket off just 28 balls, gaining momentum for the end of the innings.