Yuvraj comes up with an all-round show
A big crowd at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium got a taste of international cricket in the first Airtel Twenty20 game against England and an Indian victory by five wickets with 13 balls remaining made it all the more sweeter.
Set a target of 158, India began in roaring fashion through Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane. The openers rattled up 41 by the end of the fourth over as the host made full use of the Powerplay overs.
Yuvraj Singh, who bowled an impressive spell of three of 19, arrived at the crease at the fall of Rahane who was caught superbly by Samit Patel. He took command of the proceedings straightaway,smashing left-arm spinner Danny Briggs for two sixes and a four.
Yuvraj added 49 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli before his aggressive knock ended with Stuart Meaker converting a fine catch in the deep.
An over-ambitious Kohli gifted his wicket too, but a calm and composed Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni took India close to the target. Though Raina was run out, India cruised home in the 18th over. It was India’s third victory against England in T20s.
Hales on fire
Earlier, Alex Hales’ high back-lift caused his doom in the 13th over of the England innings, but not before he had dominated the Indian attack which was bolstered by the inclusion of speedster Parvinder Awana at the expense of Rohit Sharma.
While left-hander Michael Lumb looked unconvincing during his short stay in the middle before falling to R. Ashwin, his partner was in a celebratory mood a fortnight before his 24th birthday.
Hales hit boundaries at will and, along with an equally aggressive Luke Wright, provided the early thrust to put their team in control before Yuvraj brought India back into the contest.
Hales, who had scores of 0, 11, 0 in his three previous outings against India, was given the right opportunity by a wayward Ashoke Dinda in the very first over. He was quick to spot the short ball and pulled them to front of square and wide of mid-on.
Hales hammered a straight six off Ashwin and even stepped out to debutant Awana, punching the ball over short cover for four. He raced to his fifty off just 26 balls.
England chugged along merrily at a rate of 8.5 in the first six overs, with Hales contributing 42. Soon Wright joined the party and the visitors progressed at a faster clip when leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and Virat Kohli were introduced. The four overs after the Powerplay produced 38 runs as Hales and Wright put their side on course for a formidable total.
Getting into the act
Yuvraj had conceded just five in his first over and when he was tossed the ball again immediately after the halfway mark, he removed Wright.
In his next over, Yuvraj brought an end to the ambitious Hales who, only six months ago, proved his credentials in the shortest form of the game with a 68-ball 99 against the West Indies. The left-arm spinner also removed Eoin Morgan as England’s run-rate declined. Samit Patel and Jos Buttler put England on the recovery path.
The latter hammered Ashwin for two sixes and converted a scoop-shot off Awana over fine-leg for his third six as the visitors crossed the 150-run mark.
Poor Awana was smashed for 17 in the final over of his first game in the international arena.
On the other hand, Dinda, in his second spell, sent back Patel and Bresnan in quick succession.
Man-of-the-match Yuvraj dedicated his award to the Delhi rape victim.