A combination of superb death bowling and risible umpiring helped India level the Twenty20 series against England and set up a winner-takes-all clash in Bangalore.
England needed just eight runs off the final over in Nagpur to seal the match – and with it the series – but top scorer Joe Root (38) was given lbw by umpire Chettithody Shamshuddin from Jasprit Bumrah’s first ball despite a big inside edge.
It was the last, and most egregious, in a handful of poor calls by the official, but England might still have crossed the line had Bumrah not closed things out clinically as he added the wicket of Jos Buttler and conceded just two runs for a five-run win.
Shamshuddin’s decision was met with angry incredulity by Root, who at least did his best to turn his head away from the official as he gave vent to his frustrations. In the first innings the 46-year-old had judged India skipper Virat Kohli not out to a clear lbw and also gave Yuvraj Singh the benefit of the doubt on a tighter shout from Moeen Ali. But gripes over sub-par officiating should not entirely overshadow some engrossing cricket on a low-scoring pitch where KL Rahul’s 71 in 47 balls was ultimately a match-winning turn in a total of 144 for eight.
Both teams bowled with efficiency and guile on a tricky surface for the batsmen but while Rahul was able to turn his score into something substantial, the highest T20 score by an Indian against England, Root and Ben Stokes were finished at 38.
Chris Jordan, with three for 28, and Moeen Ali, whose four overs cost just 20, were the pick of the English attack but India were just as accomplished in the field. Bumrah and Ashish Nehra took a combined five for 48 in their eight overs as England fell short on 139 for six.
England will take their dissatisfaction with umpire Shamshuddin to the match referee and captain Eoin Morgan, bristling in the post-match conference, said of Root’s departure: “There is extreme frustration, absolutely. It shifted momentum, first ball of the 20th over. Losing a batsman who’s faced 40 balls on a wicket that’s not that easy to time it on is quite a bit of a hammer blow. It’s proved very costly all things considered.”
Asked if England would take their observations to the International Cricket Council, or match referee Andy Pycroft, he added: “Absolutely. We have an opportunity to do before the next game.
“It’s part and parcel of the job, to be able to cope with the pressure and make good decisions more often than not.
“The fact that comes out of today’s game as a highlight is disappointing, it shouldn’t be like that. It should be a good performance by both teams and a really competitive game.
“But we’ll draw a line under it tonight and move on to think about what we may come up against in Bangalore.”