Reece Topley hailed Jos Buttler’s calmness under pressure after England prevented India from claiming a Twenty20 series clean sweep despite Suryakumar Yadav’s buccaneering century.
After England rebounded from limp batting displays at the Ageas Bowl and Edgbaston to post 215 for seven at Trent Bridge, Topley snared Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant as India slid to 31 for three.
But Yadav threatened to deprive Buttler of his first win as England’s full-time white-ball captain, showcasing his power and audacity with 14 fours and six sixes in a stellar 117 off just 55 balls.
He played almost a lone hand in bringing down the equation to 25 required from the final nine balls after England had held back Moeen Ali until the penultimate over but the off-spinner delivered a dot before Yadav toe-ended a wider delivery to long-off.
Suryakumar Yadav played a remarkable innings (Mike Egerton/PA)
That proved the decisive moment as India slipped to a 17-run defeat, settling for a 2-1 series victory, but what struck left-arm seamer Topley was his skipper’s demeanour just as the tension was ramping up.
“I kept looking at Jos and I couldn’t really tell the situation of the game from when we were on top to chasing balls some overs,” said Topley, whose three for 22 came on a day where 413 runs were scored.
“It’s a credit to him and one of his great qualities that he’ll bring as a captain. In a high-scoring game, it’s easy to get carried away with emotions.
“Almost a skill in itself, as much as bowling slower balls and whatever, it’s about keeping your head and not getting wrapped up in everything.”
Buttler had made an inauspicious start since succeeding Eoin Morgan and England came into this dead rubber with question marks over their batting after two failed chases in this series.
They chose to bat first and Dawid Malan contributed a sparkling 77 from 39 balls, including five sixes against a largely second string India bowling line-up with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah rested.
After just a third win in their last 10 T20s, Topley mused about how teams are adjusting to England’s style which he believes could be crucial for their World Cup preparations in three months’ time.
“We’ve been trend-setters in how to go about the game,” he said. “It’s interesting how other teams have adapted to counteract the way we’ve played. That’s valuable information going into the World Cup.
We’ve been trend-setters in how to go about the game
“The last two performances weren’t ideal but you trust the process and it’s a brand that when you come to tournaments, it will pay off: being brave and aggressive and always being on the front foot.
“It’s a long-term goal, it’s not necessarily about this series, it’s the T20 World Cup – how are we going to play to be successful in that?”
With several fast bowlers on the sidelines, Topley has resurrected his England career this year after several back injuries and has performed admirably in six T20s, boosting his own World Cup hopes.
Averaging 24 with an economy rate of just seven runs per over, Topley is satisfied by what he has accomplished but admitted the recent upheaval, including Matthew Mott taking over as limited-overs head coach, means he cannot be assured of anything.
“Since this year, I think I’ve taken all the opportunities that have come my way,” he added. “But new coach, new captain, there’s new people to try and impress. In my head, I think it’s back to square one to try to impress the right people.”
Topley marvelled at a Yadav innings “that was so, so unique. I haven’t seen or come up against anything like that”, with the India batter bringing up a maiden international century off just 48 balls.
“It was one of the best in the T20s I’ve seen,” India captain Rohit said. “You only get to see that every now and then.
“We know the quality of him, he’s got shots all over the ground, manoeuvring the field, playing all around the ground. It’s a very rare quality a batter can have and Surya definitely has all of that.
“It’s a good sign for us to have a player like him in the squad and I’m pretty sure he’s going to go from strength to strength from here on in.”