Kuldeep Yadav and KL Rahul propel India to IT20 victory
India proved to be a much tougher challenge for England, following the one-day series against Australia, with the tourists winning this opening match in the Vitality IT20 series at Emirates Old Trafford by eight wickets.
After five wickets from Kuldeep Yadav had helped to restrict England to a much below-par 159-8, a fine century by KL Rahul made light work of chasing the runs required with the tourists reaching their 160 target with 10 balls to spare.
David Willey bowled Shikhar Dhawan for 5 in the first over of India’s reply but Rohit Sharma and Rahul combined to produce a magnificent century partnership to steer India to the brink of victory.
Rahul produced some stunning strokeplay that include five sixes and ten fours as England found him almost impossible to contain while Sharma played a supporting role, contributing 32 to a second-wicket partnership of 123 inside 12 overs.
Sharma drove Adil Rashid straight to Eoin Morgan at extra cover but Rahul and Virat Kohli steadily picked off the remaining 30 runs, Rahul reaching three figures off his 53rd delivery to a cacophony of sound from the vociferous Indian supporters when only five runs were needed for victory.
Skipper Kohli finished it in style with a six over long-on to be unbeaten on 20 with Rahul 101 not out in India’s 163-2.
Put in to bat at the start of the evening Jos Buttler struck his highest T20 score at Emirates Old Trafford but his innings of 69 was about the only bright spot of England’s batting after the home side were undone by an outstanding spell of bowling by Kuldeep Yadav.
Brought into the attack in the 10th over with England racing along at 72-1 the 23 year-old wreaked havoc with his five-wicket haul restricting the home side to just 159-8 from their 20 overs.
A much higher total seemed likely after England made an explosive start with Jason Roy swinging hard and fast in scoring 30 from 20 balls including 5 fours. But Roy tried to pull Umesh Yadav once too often, the ball cannoning into the batsman’s stumps via a bottom edge.
That opening partnership had put 50 runs on the board with Jos Buttler contributing the first six of the evening, driving an over-pitched delivery from spinner Yuzvendra Chahal into the stands at long-on. Earlier Buttler had got off the mark with a now familiar ramped four over the wicketkeeper from his third ball faced.
And after Roy had departed Buttler took over racing to his fifty off just 29 deliveries with 4-6-4 sequence off Hardik Pandya, the six hammered high over mid-wicket to post his half-century with Buttler also reaching 5,000 runs in all T20 cricket.
In fact Buttler’s current great form was demonstrated no more clearly than the fact that during this innings he became only the second batsman to score 35 or more in 8 consecutive T20 innings.
But the introduction of Kuldeep Yadav into the attack dramatically swung the game India’s way as England lost four quick wickets, all to the left-arm wrist spinner, for 12 runs in 13 balls.
Alex Hales had struggled to find his timing in scoring just 8 off 18 deliveries before he was bowled sweeping at Yadav.
And Yadav then produced the over of the match taking three wickets; Eoin Morgan skying a catch to Kohli at mid-wicket for 7 and both Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root stumped by M.S. Dhoni for ducks from consecutive deliveries to leave a shellshocked England struggling on 107-5.
Moeen Ali skied a catch to Raina at extra cover off Hardik Pandya for 6 before David Willey brought some relief, hitting a six off the first ball he received as 20 runs arrived from the 17th over bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Buttler, who had been forced to rein in his one-man assault in an effort to steady the England innings, finally fell for 69 to a catch at long-on by Kohli in the 18th over to give Man of the Match Yadav a career-best 5-24 and England spluttered their way through the final two overs to reach 159-8. It never looked anywhere near enough.
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