All-round England drub India

All-round England drub India
 It was an ideal setting for a Twenty20 match --- the bustling stands, the national fervor a notch higher on the occasion of India’s Republic Day, and the pervading cacophony.

Yet, it was England, who scored a seven-wicket victory, with an all-round performance against India to lead the three- match series at the Green Park Stadium here on Thursday.

Put in, India, with captain Virat Kohli opening, made a bright start, but lost wickets rapidly. They were somewhat propped by Suresh Raina (34), and later Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36 n.o.) to muster 147/7 in 20 overs. England made short work of the run chase and reached home in 18.1 overs.

It was an explosive start by the 2016 World T20 finalists. Jason Roy and Sam Billings tore into the new-ball pair of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah by raising 42 runs in 4.2 overs, before leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal removed them in the same over to put brakes on their charge. Roy dragged Chahal to his wickets, the ball staying low. Three balls later, Billings came forward to attack Chahal, missed the line and found his bails dancing in the air.

Joe Root (46 n.o.) and Eoin Morgan (51) then came together to quickly stem the rot and with their 83-run attacking third-wicket partnership stalled the Indian comeback. Morgan dealt largely in big hits, and with his fourth six soaring over midwicket off Parvez Rasool in the 16th over, raised his half-century. The off-spinner gained a bit of solace when Morgan fell in the next ball when trying to clear the long-off.

Bumrah had a chance to compound pressure on England when he bowled Root twice in succession but had overstepped the first time. Root didn’t err thereafter, and in the company of Ben Stokes capped the English chase with 11 balls to spare.

Earlier, Kohli caught the attention by walking in to open the innings and gave a peek into his flexible side by sacrificing his favoured No. 3 slot for the team’s interest. The Indian captain was quick to wade into the English attack, prompting the baying crowd to become ravenous for an encore. Kohli had a few misses, too, particularly facing the variety of Chris Jordan around the off-stump. He eventually whacked him over the mid-on boundary to get even.

Facing with aplomb

Before that, he faced the opening over of hyped up left-arm pacer Tymal Mills with aplomb, cracking him over the backward point, and welcomed Liam Plunkett with two hits to the boundary ropes. With a sedate KL Rahul for company, he stitched 34 runs for the opening partnership, before the Karnataka batsman mistimed a pull off Jordan.

Raina, at No 3, impressed with his brisk knock, but Kohli didn’t last long. Off-spinner Moeen Ali, introduced in the eighth over, struck right away when Kohli whipped him straight to Morgan at mid-wicket. 

The rest of the Indian middle-order failed to create much impact. Yuvraj Singh perished while playing Plunkett across the line and Raina followed him two overs later. He had tonked Ben Stokes over the boundary but was bowled around his legs immediately.  Dhoni then took control with his organised batsmanship, even as Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya made fleeting visits to the crease. It was a typical Dhoni innings, resting heavily on nifty running between the wickets, and complemented with occasional hits to the fence. It, though, couldn’t take India to safety.

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Second T20I on Jan 29 (Nagpur)
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