England chase falls short despite strong contributions from Jason Roy and Ben Stokes as Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur lead India’s attack; for the first time in the series a side has won batting first and sets up a decider, live on Sky Sports Cricket on Saturday
Suryakumar Yadav’s eye-catching fifty in his maiden international knock paved the way for India’s eight-run, series-levelling win over England in the fourth T20, in Ahmedabad.
Suryakumar marked his second cap with a sparkling 31-ball innings that together with contributions from Shreyas Iyer (37) and Rishabh Pant (30) lifted India to 185-8 despite a career-best 4-33 from fast bowler Jofra Archer.
England chased hard with Jason Roy (40 off 27) and Ben Stokes (46 off 23) to the fore in a total of 177-8 only for India’s attack – led by Hardik Pandya (2-16) and Shardul Thakur (3-42) – to claim the first win by a side batting first in four games despite a heavy dew.
It means the series will now be decided on Saturday, when the teams will contest the fifth and final T20 at the Narendra Modi Stadium – a match you can watch live on Sky Sports Cricket from 1pm.
Unchanged England appeared to have an early advantage when captain Eoin Morgan put India into bat but Rohit Sharma’s response was to strike the first ball of the contest – an Adil Rashid googly – for six over long off, the opener passing 9,000 T20 runs in the same over.
It was Suryakumar who lit the touchpaper, though, after Rohit (12) had spliced an Archer slower ball back to the fast bowler.
The 30-year-old came in at three ahead of Virat Kohli and straight away showed the intent that had produced a strike-rate of 140.10 in 171 T20 matches by pulling his first ball in international cricket for six, with his leading leg in the air.
Supreme shots continued to flow, the finest of them a six off Rashid in the seventh over as Suryakumar struck inside-out against the spin.
The 30-year-old was joined by his skipper when KL Rahul clothed a slower ball from Stokes to mid-off – the opener’s 14 off 17 balls a modest improvement on previous scores of one, nought and nought.
This time it was Kohli’s turn to fall cheaply as he came down the track only to lose his shape and be stumped for one off a Rashid googly – India 70-3 at that point.
Suryakumar reached his half-century off just 28 balls with a crunching cut for four off Rashid and his scintillating stroke-play continued as he swept Sam Curran’s first ball.
He tried to repeat the stroke off the very next delivery but this time couldn’t clear Dawid Malan, who just managed to get his hands under the ball – Suryakumar given out following a four-minute delay in which TV umpire Virender Sharma could not find conclusive evidence to the contrary.
Shreyas was quickly up and running with two fours off his first four balls and Pant matched his aggression, flicking an audacious four off Chris Jordan without moving his feet one jot.
The pair put on 30 off three overs before Pant lost his middle stump to Archer but Shreyas pressed on, pummelling Jordan for six over the covers, before falling to a fine tumbling catch from Stokes in the covers.
England leaked 57 runs off the last four overs but picked up four wickets in the process including two in Archer’s final over.
India put the squeeze on straight away at the start of England’s chase – Bhuvneshwar Kumar claiming the precious wicket of in-form Jos Buttler (nine) with a cutter that found the leading edge.
Roy overcame a scratchy start to lift England to 48-1 at the end of a powerplay in which Malan was dropped on three by Shardul Thakur at short third man.
The reprieve was short-lived as Malan (14) lost his leg stump to Rahul Chahar trying to reverse sweep and when Roy fell in the next over, miscuing Hardik Pandya, England were 66-3.
After 11 overs England were neck-and-neck with India’s 79-3 and the tourists matched India’s acceleration as Stokes and Jonny Bairstow (25 off 19), in his 50th T20, shared a 65-run stand off 36 balls.
The tourists needed 54 off the final 30 balls with Morgan new to the wicket after Bairstow failed to launch Chahar over the in-field and 46 were still required when Stokes picked out long off, off Thakur – the all-rounder now without a fifty in 33 matches.
Morgan (four) holed out to deep point off the very next ball from which point England’s chase faded to the point where they needed 23 off the final over.
With Kohli off the field, stand-in captain Rohit looked on anxiously as Thakur conceded 10 off two balls to Archer (18no) before bowling two wides but the seamer regathered to see India across the line.