PUNE – England failed to carry the momentum of their Test series success into the shorter format as India hit back with a five-wicket victory in the opening Twenty20 international at Pune today.†England’s new-look T20 side, led by Eoin Morgan in the absence of Stuart Broad, were left to rue a middle-order collapse after Alex Hales’ quick-fire half-century had given them a lightning start.
Nottinghamshire opener Hales cracked 56 off just 35 balls after England had been asked to bat first, however a middle-order collapse, sparked by Yuvraj Singh’s three-wicket burst, saw India regain the initiative.
Jos Buttler added some late impetus to the England innings by taking debutant Parvinder Awada’s final over of the innings for 17 and the Somerset gloveman finished unbeaten on 33 to ensure his stock in the limited-overs format continues to rise.
Despite the late flourish, the below-par total looked a difficult one to defend at a small ground with a quick outfield, and so it proved.
Yuvraj (38 off 21) and Suresh Raina (26 off 19) kept India above the rate, and, aided by 10 wides from England’s bowlers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (24 not out) saw his side over the line with 13 balls to spare.
The teams will reunite in Mumbai on Saturday for the second and final T20I.After losing the toss, England had looked on course to post a daunting total thanks to a fourth T20I half-century from Hales at the top of the order.
The Notts right-hander overcame the early loss of county team-mate Michael Lumb to put England in a commanding position on 51 for 1 after the opening six-over powerplay period.
Lumb struggled on his return to the side, scoring just one run off 10 deliveries before being pinned lbw when attempting to sweep Ravi Ashwin off middle stump.
Right-handers Hales and Luke Wright took the attack to India thereafter, sharing a 68-run partnership off just 42 balls to move England up to 89-1 at the halfway stage of their innings.
Hales found the boundary rope on seven occasions and cleared it twice but his promising innings came to an end when Yuvraj snuck a quicker delivery through the gate and into his middle stump.
Wright had departed in Yuvraj’s previous over, presenting the first of three catches to Ajinkya Rahane in the deep after compiling a swift 34 off just 21 balls.Captain Morgan (5) fell in identical fashion to leave England on 100-4 and in grave danger of undoing all of their early work, however Buttler’s late cameo gave the tourists hope.
Aided by some wayward new-ball bowling from Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan, India openers Gautam Gambhir and Rahane put the home side above the required rate with a swift 42-run opening partnership.
Bresnan (2-26) brought England back into the game, though, snaring both batsmen in the space of three deliveries with short balls which Gambhir (16) swatted to Hales at deep square-leg and Rahane (19) mishit to Samit Patel at mid-on.
Yuvraj joined Virat Kohli in the middle and the former made his move in the eighth over, taking left-arm off-spinner Danny Briggs for six, four, six in an opening over which cost the Hampshire youngster 18.
Yuvraj succumbed to Wright when searching for his third maximum and Kohli handed debutant Stuart Meaker (1-28) his maiden international wicket when chopping the Surrey quick back on to his stumps.
At 110-4 in the 13th over India remained in command, but had Morgan not missed a gilt-edge chance to run-out Dhoni at this stage then the match outcome may well have been different.
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