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Men in Blue clinch series with best T20 score against visitors

India’s captain Virat Kohli celebrates after the dismissal of England´s Jos Buttler (not pictured) during the fifth and final Twenty20 international cricket match between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera on March 20, 2021.— AFP

AHMEDABAD: Powerhouses Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma propelled the Indian side to their best ever T20 score against England on Saturday, clinching the series 3-2 in the process with a 36-run win.

India captain Kohli hit an unbeaten 80 and shared an opening stand of 94 with Sharma, who made a blistering 64, as India reached 224 for two in an empty stadium in Ahmedabad.

After losing Jason Roy on the second ball of the innings, Dawid Malan made 68 and Jos Buttler 52 off 34 deliveries. But England could not keep up the chase and finished on 188 for eight.

The win was an important confidence boost for India before they host the T20 World Cup in October. They have won or drawn their last eight series.

Kohli said the result showed what India, just behind top-ranked England in the world T20 international rankings, can do when they are “firing”.

“India outplayed us in the big moments of the game,” England captain Eoin Morgan admitted.

For the second straight match, Morgan won the toss and saw India’s batters surge ahead.

Kohli promoted himself to the opening slot with Sharma and the pair took advantage of a good batting wicket to help India past their previous best of 218 against England at the 2007 World Twenty20 in Durban.

Sharma hit five sixes in his 34-ball blitz before he dragged a slower leg-cutter from Ben Stokes onto his stumps.

Suryakumar Yadav kept up the attack with a flurry of sixes and fours in his 32 off 17 balls, but a stunning fielding manoeuvre by Chris Jordan cut short his innings.

Yadav hit an Adil Rashid ball towards the boundary for a likely six and Jordan sprinted from long-on to attempt a one-handed catch.

He flicked the ball to Jason Roy who completed the relay catch with a laugh.

Kohli stood firm to complete his third fifty of the series and then combined with Hardik Pandya.

Kohli, who hit seven fours and two sixes in his 52-ball knock, and Pandya, who smashed 39, put on 81 for the third wicket.

England kept up the chase as long as Malan was in.

He passed his first fifty of the series and became the fastest player to reach 1,000 T20I runs, in 24 matches, prompting Kohli to rotate his bowling options.

Indian seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who returned magnificent figures of 2-15, sent back Buttler and Thakur struck twice in an over to dismiss Jonny Bairstow, for seven, and Malan as England wilted.

The teams will next play three one-day internationals in Pune on March 23, 26 and 28.

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