India beat England by eight wickets in opening T20 international


KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav led India to victory

England’s winning white-ball run came to a juddering halt at Old Trafford as India stormed into a 1-0 lead at the start of the Vitality IT20 series.

Jos Buttler’s seventh Twenty20 half-century in his last eight attempts, dating back to his Indian Premier League heroics for Rajasthan Royals, hinted at much better than England’s eventual 159 for eight after being put in.

Jos Buttler raises his bat after scoring 50

Jos Buttler raises his bat after scoring 50

Kuldeep Yadav did the damage with some brilliant variations and deceptions for his maiden five-wicket haul at this level, and then on a glorious evening KL Rahul (101no) made short work of the chase as India prevailed with eight wickets and 10 balls to spare.

In front of a noisy 23,000 crowd, apparently dominated by Indian support, the conclusion was long foregone once Rahul raced to his 50 from just 27 balls in a second-wicket partnership of 123 with Rohit Sharma.

He escaped one chance when Jason Roy put him down at point off David Willey on 17, but was otherwise imperious as he cashed in his second Twenty20 international hundred with 10 fours and five sixes on a very good batting surface.

Whereas England’s spinners could make no difference, Kuldeep had stopped the home batsmen in their tracks as they lost three wickets in one over and five for 22 after reaching 95 for one.

Kuldeep celebrates after taking the wicket of Buttler

Kuldeep celebrates after taking the wicket of Buttler

The home innings was very much one of two halves – before and after the left-arm wrist-spinner’s intervention.

In the second instalment, there were three golden ducks and only one double-figure score between eight batsmen after Buttler (69) and Roy had shared a 50 opening stand.

Kuldeep (five for 24) conceded a boundary to Buttler, perfectly-placed between long-on and deep midwicket, from his first delivery.

He then mixed up his pace wonderfully, however, to flummox Alex Hales – who was eventually bowled round his legs trying to sweep, ending his laboured contribution of eight from 18 balls.

Roy was his usual flamboyant self until he edged an attempted pull at Umesh Yadav down on to his stumps.

It was not until Kuldeep took over, though, that England hit the skids.

Captain Eoin Morgan promoted himself above Joe Root, but mistimed an attempted slog-sweep to his opposite number Virat Kohli running in from deep midwicket.

Rahul made easy work of the chase

Rahul made easy work of the chase

That was the first ball of Kuldeep’s third over, and by the end of it he had two more wickets in two balls as Jonny Bairstow and then Root went in all-Yorkshire golden-duck action replay – both stumped off googlies.

Moeen Ali could not stop the rot and Buttler was Kuldeep’s last victim when he was caught at long-on by Kohli.

David Willey had got off the mark with a pick-up six first ball off Bhuvneshwar Kumar at the start of the 17th over – which cost 20 runs – and England’s number eight hit an unbeaten 29 from just 15 balls.

It seemed briefly that it might be enough to challenge India a little.

Rahul quickly put paid to that theory, though, coming to the crease after the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan – edging on to Willey.

Then even after Rohit drove Adil Rashid into the hands of extra cover, Kohli duly helped to administer the necessary – passing 2,000 runs in this format along the way.

England were therefore left to contemplate a reality check following last month’s six-game white-ball whitewash of Australia.

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Cricket – talkSPORT

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