The highly anticipated India’s tour of England finally got underway with the first T20I at the Old Trafford, Manchester. Prior to the game, both the teams were in tremendous form. England were fresh from a whitewash over Australia at home. On the other hand, India had tormented Ireland in the 2 T20Is.
It was expected to be a cracker of a match. Virat Kohli began the long tour on the right note by winning the toss. Considering the strong English batting line-up, he opted to field first. The dangerous opening pair of Jason Roy and Jos Buttler gave nightmare for the visitors as they went on the attack from the outset.
Roy found most of the strike initially and went after the fast bowlers. Buttler, when he found the opportunity, opened his shoulders and the score raced off to 50 in no time. Umesh Yadav, who had come in for the injured Jasprit Bumrah, gave India the much-needed breakthrough when he castled Roy for 30 in the 5th over.
The score reached 53/1 after the end of the powerplay and there was a decline in the scoring rate. The No.3 batsman Alex Hales found it hard to get going and consumed plenty of deliveries. After 10 overs, England dragged themselves to 77/1 at the halfway stage. Buttler kept the team in the hunt and hammered Hardik Pandya for 18 runs in the 11th over.
Kuldeep Yadav wreaked havoc
The talk of the town was how the English batsman would cope with the Indian wrist spinners. The first game went to India as Kuldeep Yadav literally toyed with the opposition. When he dismantled the stumps of Hales in the 12th over, it was the beginning of the destruction for the hosts. The chinaman then came back to bowl the decisive over when he sent back Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in the space of 4 deliveries.
All of a sudden, England were tottering at 112/5 after 15 overs. To make the matters worse, Pandya removed Moeen Ali. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was having an off day in the field and he went for 20 runs in the 17th over as England kept the hopes alive for a decent score in the presence of Buttler and David Willey.
But Kuldeep wasn’t content just yet as he got Buttler out in his final over for 69. The spinner picked up his maiden five-wicket haul and finished with superb figures of 24/5. Umesh Yadav also had a good day at the office as he bagged his 2nd wicket in the penultimate over in the form of Chris Jordan. England could muster 159/8 after 20 overs.
Defending a mediocre total on a good batting surface, the hosts needed early wickets. Willey did bring the downfall of Shikhar Dhawan in the very first over for just 4 runs. Virat Kohli opted to hold himself back and promoted KL Rahul to No.3. The right-hander carried the brilliant form of IPL to the tour and backed up the good work done against Ireland in the last game.
The KL Rahul show
He struck his 3rd ball out of the park and showed the kind of form he is in. Roy gave him a lifeline when he dropped Rahul at point in the 3rd over. The batsman knew it was his day and made full use of the chance. He went absolutely berserk and put up a show of sheer class. In 6 overs, India’s total was boosted to 54/1. All this while, Rohit Sharma was a mere spectator.
Rahul didn’t let the spinners settle down and punished them from the time they came to crease. He brought up his 5th half-century in the 9th over as India soon crossed the 3-figure mark in the next over. The 26-year-old took a liking to Liam Plunkett and smashed 2 sixes and 2 fours in the 12th over.
Rohit, who had been playing second fiddle, lost his wicket to Adil Rashid for 32 off 30 balls. But India were in a very low-pressure zone as they needed just 29 runs from the last 7 overs. Rahul was cruising towards a hundred when he was joined in the middle by Kohli.
Kohli struck some good shots but found the fielders most of the time. He had the luxury of a handful of overs in hand and hence he could afford to take his time. Rahul didn’t lift the foot off the paddle and brought up his 2nd T20I hundred in the 18th over. He stayed unbeaten at 101 off only 54 balls as India went past the line with 10 balls to spare.
India won the toss and opted to field first
England: 159/8 in 20 overs
Jos Buttler 69 (46), Jason Roy 30 (20)
Kuldeep Yadav 24/5 (4), Umesh Yadav 21/2 (4)
India: 163/2 in 18.2 overs
KL Rahul 101* (54), Rohit Sharma 32 (30)
Adil Rashid 25/1 (4), David Willey 30/1 (4)
India won by 8 wickets
Player of the Match: Kuldeep Yadav