Tuesday, 16 March 2021 21:29

Staff Reporter.

Jos Buttler countered Virat Kohli's sparkling half-century with his highest T20I score of 83 not out from 52 balls as England beat India by eight wickets to take a 2-1 series lead on the day of captain Eoin Morgan's 100th international in the format.

Buttler hit four sixes and five fours and reached an 11th T20 fifty from 26 balls as England topped India's 156-6 with 10 balls to spare to bounce back from their seven-wicket thrashing in Sunday's second match.

Morgan's men would have been hoping to chase a much smaller target after paceman Mark Wood (3-31) - who missed the weekend's fixture with a bruised left heel - bowled with express pace to help reduce India to 24-3 in the powerplay and then 87-5 after 15 overs.

Kohli, though, delivered a batting masterclass, striking 49 of the 69 runs the hosts managed in the final five overs at Narendra Modi Stadium as he ended on 77 not out from 46 balls, with four sixes and eight fours.

Buttler then produced a batting clinic of his own, however, besting the 77 not out he smoked against Australia at The Ageas Bowl last summer, as the side who won the toss and batted second triumphed for the third game in a row in this five-match series in Ahmedabad.

The only difference this time around was that no fans were in attendance, with the series now being played behind closed doors due to a spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the state of Gujarat.

Buttler - dropped on 76 by Kohli at backward point - and Jonny Bairstow (40no off 28) - dropped on 20 by Yuzvendra Chahal at third man - led England home in front of the empty stands with an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 77, during which Bairstow reached 1,000 T20I runs.

Morgan - whose men can now wrap up a series victory by winning Thursday's fourth game - became the first England men's player to 100 T20Is and fourth man overall, following in the footsteps of India's Rohit Sharma, Pakistan's Shoaib Malik and New Zealand's Ross Taylor.

Morgan's T20I debut came amid England's shock four-wicket defeat to Netherlands at Lord's in 2009 - but his milestone match ended in victory, thanks principally to Wood and Buttler.