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Team India sets record after the fi rst T20 Series win

Rohit Sharma backed up the heroics of pace bowler Hardik Pandya by hitting 100 not out as India clinched the T20 international series at Bristol. Sharma became only the second Indian to pass 2,000 runs in this format as India chased down their target of 199 with eight balls and seven wickets to spare. Rohit Sharma became only the second player to score three T20I hundreds. Colin Munro was the first to do so, getting there last year. Rohit scored his maiden T20I century against South Africa at Dharamsala in 2015 and his second against Sri Lanka in Indore last year. Rohit's 100* off 56 balls was his fifth century in all T20s, which is the most among Indian players and Asian players.

England batted first and threatened to post a huge score before stuttering at the end and finishing on 198-9 after their 20 overs. Pandya took 4-38, his best figures in T20 cricket and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni became the first player to take five catches in international T20 and ran out Chris Jordan on the last ball of England’s innings for good measure. Hardik Pandya picked up his maiden four-wicket haul in T20s in the first innings and then scored an unbeaten 33 off 14 balls to finish off India's chase. He became the first India player and eighth overall to score 30 and take four wickets in a T20I match. The last such all-round performance by any player was in 2015, when Dwayne Bravo scored 31 and picked up 4 for 28 against Sri Lanka.

Sharma praised Pandya’s calmness, saying: “He has done that a few years now. He is used to it now and he is doing it perfectly. The way he bowled gave him confidence to bat.” The 30-year-old Sharma produced his best batting of the series and put on 89 with his captain Kohli, the other Indian with 2,000 T20 runs, for the third wicket as India might the task look easy. Sharma also became the second man, after Colin Munro of New Zealand, to score three international T20 centuries. Virat Kohli made 43 as the pair took advantage of some short boundaries at the County Ground to pepper the stands with sixes until Kohli fired a return catch to Jordan.

Earlier Jordan had taken a stunning running and diving catch to dismiss KL Rahul in the deep to add to a stunning effort from Jake Ball at backward square leg that removed Shikhar Dhawan. After England squared the series in Cardiff India needed to win to make it seven successive international T20 series win in succession.

Dhoni became the first ever player to take five catches in a T20I innings. He was involved in six of the nine dismissals in England's innings including a run-out. Mohammad Shahzad is the only other player to effect five dismissals in a T20I. He took three catches and effected two stumpings against Oman in 2015.

England captain Eoin Morgan said: “On a small ground on a good wicket we would expect to score more than 198. This series for us has produced three different performances.” England had threatened to run away with the game and post a massive total until Pandya and Dhoni intervened and kept the chase total, on a small ground, realistic.

In-form India batsman KL Rahul has jumped nine places to reach a career-high third spot in the latest ICC T20 rankings while his team has gained a place to be second in the team standings following the series win against England. Rahul’s scores of 70, 101 not out, 6 and 19 have made him India’s highest-ranked batsman. Rohit Sharma in 11th rank (up by two places) and captain Virat Kohli in 12th rank (down by four places) are the next highest-ranked India batsmen.

Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya credited Rohit Sharma for the team’s comprehensive win in the series-clinching third and final T20 International against England, saying it was a special innings from the elegant batsman after two ordinary outings. “Rohit played amazingly well. He was outstanding and played a fantastic hand. He won the game single-handedly for us. We expect that from him. I haven’t seen anyone hit the ball as hard as Rohit,” Pandya told reporters at the post-match press conference. Not having two good games and then coming back to play such an innings, that is special. It shows the confidence players have in this team, in themselves. It all comes down to the support staff. They have been great,” he said.

The 24-year-old medium pacer, however, had a nightmare start to his afternoon when he conceded 22 runs from his first over. “To be honest, I see the T20 format as a funny game. You need to back yourself and bowl your best balls. I still remember after getting hit for 22, I was still normal. If you come and bowl the right lengths, and take wickets on this kind of pitch, eventually you will stop runs,” Pandya said. “My focus was to make sure that I bowled different balls rather than just bowling yorkers because bowling length was the key. With the shortest boundaries on the straight, I kind of mixed things,” he added.

Pandya said he his learning every match. “I am learning. I am always learning in the game. I’ve made sure that I keep on learning from my mistakes. With every game, something or the other I am learning, which is helping my game,” he said. Pandya was full of praise for the back room staff, who according to him are responsible for the upward graph of the current Indian team. “We have a fantastic staff and leaders who are giving us immense confidence to go and express ourselves. We are just enjoying our game rather than think about what’s going to happen. We’re just playing our best cricket and eventually when you do that, you end up doing well,” he said.

India has registered their sixth successive T20I series win with their 2-1 victory over England. The streak began last year with a 2-1 win over New Zealand, since when they have beaten Sri Lanka and South Africa, won the tri-nation Nidahas Trophy, and beaten Ireland and England on this tour. This was also their ninth successive three-match bilateral T20I series without a defeat. Since 2016, they have won eight series and one was drawn.

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