Richard Gleeson stars on debut as England set 171 by India to level T20 series

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Richard Gleeson enjoyed a superb debut England (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)
Richard Gleeson enjoyed a superb debut England (David Davies/PA) (PA Wire)

Richard Gleeson made a spectacular start to his England career with the princely wickets of India trio Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant in the second Twenty20 at Edgbaston.

Aged 34, Gleeson is the oldest England debutant since Paul Nixon in 2007 and made a near instantaneous impact after Rohit and Pant had propelled India to 49 without loss in the fifth over.

Rohit was bounced out while Gleeson snared Kohli and Pant with successive deliveries, inducing edges as they looked to attack, before India went on to post 170 for eight after being asked to bat first.

Chris Jordan claimed four for 27 after the initial burst while Ravindra Jadeja top-scored for India with an unbeaten 46 from 29 balls, containing five fours.

The tourists, who can move into an unassailable 2-0 lead before Sunday’s final match at Trent Bridge, brought back Kohli, Pant, Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah, with the quartet rested for the 50-run win in Southampton following their Test duties in Birmingham earlier this week.

But it was the inclusion of Gleeson – who replaced Tymal Mills, with David Willey coming in for Reece Topley – who made the biggest splash on a balmy Saturday afternoon after Rohit and Pant’s fast start.

The expectation was Kohli would partner his successor as India captain but it was Pant who came out with the skipper, a sign of the tourists’ commitment to attacking the first six overs.

Jason Roy grassed a relatively simple chance low at backward point in the first over to reprieve Rohit, who threw caution to the wind thereafter with some fierce blows, with the drop off Willey compounded as he was pulled then hammered straight for sixes.

Pant mixed power with innovation, including an audacious whipped pull, as Willey and then Moeen Ali were milked but Gleeson’s fifth ball in international cricket hurried Rohit, who departed for 31 off 20 balls when a top-edge ballooned gently for Jos Buttler to take a diving catch over his shoulder.

More was to follow as Gleeson’s seventh and eighth deliveries accounted for Kohli and Pant. Kohli looked to go over the top but a fuller delivery caught the outside edge, with Dawid Malan running from backward point to complete a catch while Pant charged Gleeson but got a thin tickle through to Buttler.

From 49 without loss India had slipped to 61 for three, thanks to Gleeson, who not long ago was contemplating retirement after a stress fracture in his back. But the fast bowler has had a season to remember in the Vitality Blast, combining playing for Lancashire with a teaching job.

Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya consolidated but perished off successive Jordan deliveries, the former top-edging in the deep while the latter slapped to backward point.

Jordan collected the wickets of Harshal Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for his best T20 international figures since March 2019 but Jadeja ensured there would be no complete collapse, to help India to what looks a competitive total on a pitch that was used for a T20 Blast quarter-final earlier this week.

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