India bounced back from their Test series defeat to win the first Twenty20 International in Pune, as a much-changed England side failed to capitalise on a promising start. Put in to bat, and despite the loss of Michael Lumb for just one from ten balls, Alex Hales smashed 56 from 35 to put the tourists on course for a competitive score. He was ably supported by Luke Wright (34 from 21), but this early promise was halted by Yuvraj Singh who dismissed Hales, Wright and stand-in captain Eoin Morgan (five from nine). After Samit Patel hit 24 from 22, Jos Buttler ensured England’s bowlers had something to work with by racking up 33 from just 21 balls. Realistically it was always going to be a tough task to stop India making a target that was below par, and so it proved when Yuvraj Singh upped the ante with two sixes. Suresh Raina was run out by Morgan for 26, but captain MS Dhoni saw his side home with 13 balls to spare.
Man-of-the-match Yuvraj Singh played a key role in limiting what was looking like a dangerous start to the England innings, finishing with 3-19 from his four overs. He was equally destructive with the bat, making 38 from 21 before he holed out to Stuart Meaker off the bowling of Luke Wright. His innings had included a brutal display of hitting against Danny Briggs from whom he took 18 runs in an over, and from there on, India were always going to win the match. This performance should be of some consolation to the all-rounder – recently back after his successful fight against cancer – after he lost his place in the Test side ahead of the final match of the series. He appears to be hitting from for the forthcoming one day series, and if he is able to perform as his did in India’s 2011 50-over World Cup triumph he will pose a significant threat to England.
Several key players are missing from the England line-up through a combination of injury and enforced rest, but there is still a chance for this young squad to square the two-match series in Mumbai on Saturday. There were positive signs from the likes of Hales and Buttler, but England will need more significant contributions from the rest of the top and middle order to take the pressure off an inexperienced bowling attack. Of those bowlers, Tim Bresnan has not had the most productive of tours, particularly with the bat, and will hope to use the second match as a means of getting some runs under his belt before the ODI’s. Jade Dernbach was wayward in Pune, and while Stuart Meaker impressed on his international debut in the shortest form of the game, James Tredwell will be looking to improve on his T20 bow.
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BIOGRAPHY: Cesc Fabregas