sport

England facing tough chase

England struggled to contain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina's late onslaught as India posted a challenging 177 for eight in Saturday's T20 clash.

Eoin Morgan's tourists pegged India back in the middle overs, after choosing to field first under lights.

But Luke Wright's first over and Stuart Meaker's last both cost 20 runs, and England would have to chase well to level this series in their final match of 2012.

Virat Kohli gave India early impetus from number three, but it was the 60-run sixth-wicket partnership in just 27 balls between Dhoni and Raina that did most damage as Jade Dernbach and Meaker conceded 38 in two overs.

Dernbach had struck in only the second over when Ajinkya Rahane carved a catch down to debutant Joe Root at third man, and India had to wait until the first ball of the fourth for their first four.

But first-change Meaker began poorly, with five wides somehow hurled almost straight to fine-leg, and then pulled for four twice.

Then England's outcricket took another turn for the worse when Wright overstepped for a big no ball, and saw the free-hit slapped wide of mid-on by Kohli for another boundary.

The upshot was a 50 stand for the second wicket in only 25 balls, and six-over powerplay score of 59 for one.

Meaker redeemed himself with the wicket of Kohli, for the second match running, lbw pushing across the line to a ball which might have beaten leg stump.

Wright switched ends to make amends too, with another big wicket when Yuvraj Singh pulled to long-on to give Root some more catching practice.

Opener Gautam Gambhir was cast in the sheet-anchor role, but appeared to be taking the brief to extremes - and it was not clear to whose advantage it was when he mis-pulled Wright to be caught at a fine third-man for 17 off 27 balls.

Rohit Sharma missed a slog-sweep at James Tredwell and was bowled.

But Raina was dropped on nine, a tough chance to diving wicketkeeper Jos Buttler off Tim Bresnan.

Then just when it seemed England might be about to restrict India to a target well within range, the left-hander went into overdrive in Meaker's last over - and Dhoni's canny placement and power proved telling too.