Still smarting from the 2-1 Test defeat, India would look to seal the T20 series when they play England in the second and last game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday.
England’s inexperience came to the fore in the first T20 Thursday at Pune where they got beaten by five wickets. Despite getting a springy start through Alex Hales and Luke Wright, they could only post a sub-standard total on account of a middle order collapse. In the absence of Kevin Pietersen and regular captain Stuart Broad, the Three Lions’ batting and bowling looked vulnerable a great deal.
Apart from Hales, the other bright spot for the visitors was young wicketkeeper batsman Jos Butler whose big-hitting towards the end gave England something to bowl at. Tim Bresnan took two wickets in an over to pull it back for his team but the celebration was fleeting as Yuvraj Singh’s exploits with the bat turned it in India’s favour.
A win on Saturday will give India a morale-boosting 2-0 sweep, and that's what they are looking for ahead of the T20s and ODIs against Pakistan.
Yuvraj again holds the key for the hosts. On Thursday, he was the difference between the two sides. First he shone with the ball with 3 for 19, putting the brakes on an English innings that was running away with the game. If it wasn’t for him, the Indians would’ve got at least 20 runs more to chase. Apart from R Ashwin, the other bowlers – debutant Parvinder Awana, Ashok Dindna, Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla – failed to leave any impression. Though Dinda took two wickets in an over, it was more to the fact that the Englishmen were looking to up the ante towards the end of their innings.
India were in a big spot of bother when Bresnan removed Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane in the space of four balls but Yuvraj again came to the team’s rescue, hitting 38 off 21 to put India on course.
Clearly, India may have won the opener but it wasn’t a convincing performance - by all means. Having said that, again they go in as favourites and that has more to do with the visitors’ inexperience.
India: 1 Gautam Gambhir 2 Virender Sehwag 3 Virat Kohli 4 Yuvraj Singh 5 Suresh Raina 6 MS Dhoni (c&wk) 7 Ravindra Jadeja 8 R Ashwin 9 Ashok Dinda 10 Parvinder Awana 11 Piyush Chawla
England: 1 Alex Hales 2 Michael Lumb 3 Luke Wright 4 Eoin Morgan (c) 5 Samit Patel 6 Jos Butler 7 Tim Bresnan 8 James Tredwell 9 Stuart Meaker 10 Danny Driggs 11 Jade Dernbach