It will be the first Twenty20 International at the Wankhede
The Twenty20 games are enjoyable fillers bringing in the feel-good mood in between the hard-fought Test series and the five One-Day Internationals to follow in the New Year.
There is of course the action-packed two Twenty20 matches and three ODIs scheduled against Pakistan that would keep millions of fans across the border excited starting from Christmas Day at Bangalore and stretching over 12 days with the two teams travelling to four more cities.
While the fans in India and Pakistan wait for the series to start, Yuvraj Singh took it upon himself on Thursday to play a stellar role that led India to a much-needed confidence-building win against England in the first of the two-match Twenty20 series at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium at Pune.
The second and final match will be played at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday before the England team leaves for home to spend the yuletide season with their families and friends.
It will be the first Twenty20 International match at the Wankhede.
The remarkable aspect about the shortest form of the game is that it is tailor-made for the spectators who look for fulsome entertainment.
There were many moments that kept the crowd riveted. They were delighted at the fleeting moments of cat and mouse game played by R. Ashwin and Michael Lumb before the Indian had the better of the England opener.
They also appreciated Alex Hales and Luke Wright’s creative and bold batting in the Power-Play overs and also the splendid support given by Samit Patel and Jos Buttler whose effortless scooped-six over fine leg off Parvinder Awana proved that he’s one of the true Twenty20 specialists.
As expected the Indian fielding, nay catching, appeared more sure and confident with Ajinkya Rahane showing fine judgment to leave the field with a pat on his back for brilliant catches after the likes of Wright, Morgan and Patel took chances to beat the short boundary line. Virat Kohli took a superb catch to get rid of Tim Bresnan at long-on.
England was disappointed that it could not make its rival pay heavily after the rousing second wicket partnership between Hales and Wright.
Eoin Morgan, who led the team in the absence of Stuart Broad said: “We got off to a fantastic start, Alex and Luke really came together as a pair, but from there we didn’t really kick on. We lost wickets continually, which halted our momentum and didn’t do us any favours.
“The total we did creep up to was probably about 10 or 15 short of par. We said at the halfway stage we would have to do things exceptionally well to win this game because the wicket did play so well, and we just lacked a bit of discipline really.
“Losing wickets in Twenty20 cricket doesn’t help and batting first, you never know how much enough is because you play on a small ground on a good wicket.
“I will continue to encourage the guys to play positively and again build partnerships and continue the momentum if the wicket is good,’’
There’s no doubt that Yuvraj Singh fashioned the home team’s win. First his three for 19 and then a swashbuckling 38 made him the automatic choice for the Man-of-the-Match award.It’s possible that India may introduce Bhuvneshwar Kumar to international cricket here on Saturday and mull over ways to find a place for Rohit Sharma.
Ticket sales for the match have been good, said Nitin Dalal, Hon. Secretary, Mumbai Cricket Association.
The squads (from):
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ambati Rayudu, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Parvinder Awana.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt.), James Harris, Jonny Bairstow, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Samit Patel, Joe Root, James Tredwell , Luke Wright.