India 170-4 (Sharma 55no) beat
England 80 (Harbhajan 4-12) by 90 runs
ICC World T20, Group A Match, Colombo
Report by Chetan Narula in Colombo
India sent defending champions England crashing to a huge defeat, by 90 runs, at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. On a day that stayed dry throughout Sri Lanka, earlier Pakistan's spinners had inflicted damage on the New Zealand batting line-up, winning by 13 runs. But the Indians wreaked much more havoc.
The groundsmen did a fine job of clearing any rain water from the ground as it had rained all night here and on Sunday evening, the game was good to go. England won the toss and elected to field first. Both teams made quite a few changes to their sides. India rested Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and R Ashwin, while Samit Patel was benched to bring in Tim Bresnan. England did pick a stronger squad while it was apparent India were treating this as a practice match. In the end it didn’t really matter, for only two of their picks, Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh, mattered most.
Chasing a big total of 171, against the combination of their off and leg-spin, English batsmen just had no answers. Irfan Pathan rocked their boat initially, bowling Alex Hales (out for duck) and trapping Luke Wright LBW for just six. It was only the start of their troubles as Harbhajan came on to bowl in the sixth over and struck immediately. Eoin Morgan was beaten all ends up and bowled. Seeing this success, MS Dhoni put on Chawla from the other end and he also got a wicket in his first over, Jonny Bairstow unable to read his googly.
At 42 for four there was no coming back, but the remainder of the innings didn’t get any easier. The spinners were near unplayable for the English batting and one after another the batsmen departed, lured into false strokes, not able to read the bowling. Jos Buttler managed to reach double figures, in fact his 11 runs (one four) were the second highest – from a batsman that is – in the innings. The top scorer was Craig Kieswetter, who made 35 runs off 25 balls, with four fours and two sixes. Jade Dernbach threw his bat around towards the end, scoring 12 off 7 balls, hitting two fours.
Harbhajan Singh finished with four for 12 from his four overs, while Chawla picked up two for 13. Pathan finished with two for 17 for his efforts, while Ashok Dinda got a wicket as well, that of Stuart Broad.
Earlier, India batted first and Pathan opened the innings with Gautam Gambhir. They added 24 runs for the first wicket after which the all-rounder was bowled by Steve Finn. He scored eight runs. Virat Kohli then came to the middle and treated the English bowling with utmost contempt. He was involved in a 57-run second wicket partnership with Gambhir, and contributed 40 of those runs. They came off only 32 balls and included six fours. Gambhir himself got runs after a long while, making 45 off 38 balls, guiding the Indian innings. He hit five fours as the English bowlers were guilty of bowling too short, in conditions alien to them.
Only Graeme Swann gave a good account of himself, finishing with one for 17 from his four overs. This was capitalized upon by Rohit Sharma who came out to bat on Kohli’s fall and scored a scintillating half-century. He took his time settling down and had scored only 18 runs off his first 17 balls. Then he shifted gears, having got his eye-in, smacking 37 more runs off the next 16 balls he faced. His innings included five fours and one six, as he stayed unbeaten at the end, helping India reach 170 for 4 in their 20 overs. As it turned out, it was twice of what they actually needed to win this game.
© Cricket World 2012