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…and India are champions once again!!!

Skipper Virat Kohli led from the front with a vibrant 52-ball 80* as India outplayed England in the final T20I by 36 runs and yet again came from behind to win the series 3-2 at Motera on Saturday.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked like a man on a mission with the ball, giving away just 15 runs off 4 overs with a couple of crucial wickets to help the hosts restrict Eoin Morgan’s side to 188-8 in 20 overs during their 225-run chase. Almost every bowler from both teams, had a tough day on the field, but Bhuvaneshwar seemed to be in a different orbit altogether! His economy rate 3.75 RPO that included 17 dot balls goes on to testify this claim!

Losing the toss proved to be a boon for India, as the masterstroke to send Kohli to open the innings along with Rohit Sharma paid off more than anyone could have anticipated. The duo literally tore into the English attack, putting up 94-run partnership (56 balls) for the opening stand. Rohit looked in ominous touch for his 34-ball 64 before he was castled by Ben Stokes.

Kohli went all out and showed little mercy to the English bowlers after the fall of Rohit’s wicket, and along with Suryakumar Yadav (32 off 17) stitched another crucial partnership of 49 runs in 26 balls. The icing on the cake was done by Hardik Pandya (39* off 17), who finally got back to his natural game, and along with Kohli, plundered 81 runs off the last 40 balls for India to take the total to a massive 224/2.

Talking about the strategy of opening with Rohit, Kohli said, “Now that our middle order looks sorted, I think India’s two best batsmen should open the innings more often to get the maximum number of balls in a T20I in the coming days."

"So, I would definitely like to partner Rohit at the top because if we are set then you know one of us is going to cause some serious damage,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation, hinting at his possible new batting position for IPL and the all-anticipated T20I World Cup.

World No. 1 England, in their batting, delivered almost everything that a fairy-tale finish deserved but Bhuvneshwar and Shardul Thakur spoiled their party with some extremely smart bowling in the middle overs. As long as Jos Buttler (52 off 34) and Dawid Malan (68 off 46) stayed at the crease, things looked to be slipping out of India’s grip. They absolutely ravaged the bowling attack to take England to 127-1 at the end of 12 overs.

However, the moment Bhuvneshwar was brought back into the attack in the 13th over, the downhill ride for England started. Bhuvneshwar’s over marked the departure of the dangerous Buttler and then followed Shardul’s incredible 15th over that turned the match on its heels. The young all-rounder plucked both Jonny Bairstow (7) and the destructive Malan in the same over to open the floodgates for India. The rest was history!