India 158-5 (Yuvraj 38) beat
England 157-6 (Yuvraj 3-19) by 5 wickets
First Twenty20 International, Pune
An excellent all-round performance from Yuvraj Singh helped India to a comfortable five-wicket win over a young, exciting, albeit occasionally indisciplined England side, at Pune’s Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
Alex Hales got England off to a brisk start with a fluent half-century, but Yuvraj Singh’s three wickets pegged them back in the middle, before a late onslaught from Jos Buttler took them a scarcely competitive 157 for six on what was a perfect batting wicket.
A brace of wickets in the fifth over from Tim Bresnan arrested a wayward start to India’s run chase that had seen both opening bowlers start with wides. However, Yuvraj Singh laid into Danny Briggs’ only over, taking 16 runs from the final three balls, as England’s bowlers failed to deliver the middle overs squeeze that India’s had.
Michael Lumb had struggled for fluency after MS Dhoni, fearful of the late night due dew, inserted them after winning the toss. He made a painstaking one from 10 deliveries and was thoroughly outclassed by his opening partner Alex Hales. Hales appears to improve with each innings and, while he and Luke Wright were going strong during their second-wicket stand of 68, a total of 200 didn’t appear beyond them.
Unfortunately for England, both fell victim to Yuvraj. Wright skied him to long-off to give Ajinkya Rahane the first of his three catches for the evening, while Hales was bowled, aiming another lofted drive over mid-off, for a sublime 56 off 35 balls. When Eoin Morgan was dismissed two balls later, again caught in the deep by Rahane, England were in danger of imploding and it took the calm heads of Samit Patel and Jos Buttler to start the repair job.
Patel succumbed to Dinda for 24 off 22 balls, but Buttler - interestingly preferred as wicket-keeper to Jonny Bairstow - helped take the final over from India’s debutant Parvinder Awana for 17, including hitting successive sixes from the third and fourth balls.
If the cliché about momentum being the key in limited-overs cricket is true, then England should have been on a roll. Unfortunately, any advantage that they did have was given away by their opening pair of Jade Dernbach and, to a lesser extent, Tim Bresnan. Dernbach strayed onto the pads of Gautam Gambhir repeatedly and started with a brace of wides before being flicked through fine-leg for four, while Bresnan also started with a a wide.
The introduction of Stuart Meaker stemmed the tide briefly before Bresnan, brought back to bowl the fifth over, struck twice. Gautam Gambhir was first to go, while Rahane - who hit two sweet sixes and looked a class act - followed three balls later.
It was then over to Yuvraj, who, with a steely look in his eye, began with a four off Meaker before tucking into Briggs. He was eventually extracted by Luke Wright, caught on the boundary by Meaker, who had earlier dropped Rahane two balls prior to his dismissal, but by then the game was as good as over.
Virat Kohli (21 off 17 balls) and Suresh Raina (26 off 19) would both depart before the finishing line had been crossed, with India’s Mr. Cool, MS Dhoni, unbeaten on 24 off 21 balls.
The second and final match in the series is on Saturday in Mumbai, with India looking for a series clean sweep which would go towards avenging their defeat in the Test series.
© Cricket World 2012
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