Suryakumar and Arshdeep the architects of hard-fought India win


India 111 for 3 (Suryakumar 50*, Dube 31*, Netravalkar 2-18) beat USA 110 for 8 (Nitish 27, Taylor 24, Arshdeep 4-9, Hardik 2-14) by seven wickets

USA had several things going against them.

The conditions: Before today, they’d never played at Nassau County Stadium; this was India’s fourth game at the venue.

Personnel: Monank Patel, the designated captain, was out injured.

The toss: Rohit Sharma called correctly and asked USA to bat in seaming conditions.

Experience: A motley crew with day jobs against cricketing royalty.

It had all the makings of a one-sided fare. Except, it was anything but.

At one stage, with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma both dismissed by Saurabh Netravalkar, and India 15 for 2 in chase of 111, USA dared to dream.

When Rishabh Pant was castled by Ali Khan, thirty-thousand screaming fans, many of them Indian-Americans, gave more wings to those dreams.

This was now USA’s game to lose.

But in Suryakumar Yadav, India had a crisis man who bailed them out of choppy waters. He was helped along by Shivam Dube during the course of a half-century stand that proved to be a game-changer.

India are now through to the Super Eights, but USA are still very much masters of their own fate; a win over Ireland, even a washout, will see them through, ahead of Pakistan whom they famously beat in a Super Over thriller last week.

Netravalkar’s Gibbs moment?

Fifty-three needed off 45.

USA were bowling cutters into the pitch. Suryakumar was struggling to hit the ball off the square, and was trying to manufacture strokes. Most times, it comes off. Here, it wasn’t.

An over after nearly getting bowled trying to sweep Corey Anderson off his length, he tried to open the bat face to play his trademark loft, only to slice the ball high. Saurabh Netravalkar circled under it after doing exceedingly well to get to the ball running back from short third, but couldn’t hold on to the chance.

The superhero who could not put a foot wrong until then was human, after all.

Netravalkar’s dream beginning

Virat Kohli first. Rohit Sharma next.

The ball that felled Kohli in the first over was a dream delivery. The batter nicking off with a perfect away-going delivery that had him jabbing. It was only Kohli’s second golden duck in T20Is.

The ball that got Rohit was somewhat similar. Except it was a lot closer to the stumps and had Rohit turning the face of the bat to take the leading edge. At mid-off, Harmeet Singh, Rohit’s school junior by a few years, ran back and held on.

India were shell-shocked at 15 for 2, which soon became 44 for 3 when Rishabh Pant was out to one that skidded low and through his defence.

Suryakumar, Dube dig in to allay nerves

It was almost as if the reprieve of Suryakumar deflated USA.

Suddenly, Aaron Jones was switching fields every ball, running up to have a chat between deliveries, all of it playing into the hands of the batters. Twice, USA were warned about delaying the game by not beginning their next over within their 60-second allowance. When they erred for a third time, the umpires awarded five penalty runs to India.

From 35 off 30, India now needed a run-a-ball 30. It didn’t matter then that Dube had at one point been struggling on 5 off 14, or that Suryakumar was far from his 360-degree mode.

In the 17th over, India truly broke the stranglehold when Suryakumar picked Shadley van Schalkwyk’s medium pace for a lofted six over extra cover and a trademark flick over his shoulder for four off back-to-back deliveries.

Off the first ball of the 19th, he got to a 49-ball half-century. The winning runs were hit one legitimate delivery later when Dube dug out a yorker-length delivery to long-off. It could have so easily been another knock that had Dube’s self-doubts spiralling, but that he dug in to remain unbeaten on 31 in what was a hard scrap should give him lot of confidence.

Arshdeep’s career-best has USA hobbling

The day began with a two-wicket opening over in which Arshdeep Singh swung the ball back in. Shayan Jahangir, replacing Monank Patel, was out lbw, and Andries Gous picked out mid-off attempting to pull a skiddy short ball.

It wasn’t until Nitish Kumar and Corey Anderson added 25 off 18 heading into the final overs that USA had some injection of momentum that gave them a chance of getting towards 120.

However, overs 16-18 scuppered those plans. Hardik bowled a wicket-maiden in the 17th, dismissing Anderson for his second wicket, and Arshdeep had Harmeet Singh – who had top-edged Bumrah for a six to get off the mark – caught behind.

USA ended up with 110, which they’d look back at and wonder what could’ve been had they only got 10 more.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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