India v England: Yuvraj Singh inspires hosts to victory in Pune
India v England: Yuvraj Singh inspires India to victory in th first Twenty20 international against England in Pune by five wickets
A Yuvraj Singh double act led India to victory by five wickets against England in the first Twenty20 international in Pune.
The 31-year-old won the man-of-the-match award for his crucial three wickets, as the tourists limped to 157-6 off their allotted overs, before smashing 38 off 21 balls to drive India to a morale-boosting win.
The hosts will be happy to return to winning ways in the shortest format of the game after what many in the country are seeing as a disastrous 2-1 Test series loss to England.
England were put into bat and only Alex Hales (56), Luke Wright (34) and Jos Buttler (33) managed to get Eoin Morgan’s team close to a competitive total.
Morgan, filling in as skipper for the injured Stuart Broad, will have been disappointed to fall 20-30 runs short of a par score on another good batting wicket in India.
England lacked focus in either discipline – losing wickets at crucial times and conceding 10 wides with the ball.
Hales got the tourists off to great start tucking into Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin hitting his half-century off just 26 balls compiling a handy partnership off 68 with Wright.
But the dismissal of the Sussex all-rounder with England on 89 saw a flurry of quick wickets to Yuvraj hampered the chances of a decent score with a short batting line-up.
Bowlers Tim Bresnan and James Tredwell came in at seven and eight put pressure on England’s top order to come up with the goods.
Hales had his stumps re-arranged by the impressive Yuvraj trying an expansive cover drive with Wright and Morgan both caught off the same bowler in the deep in the space of three overs.
Morgan fell for just five attempting a slog-sweep while Wright, who has been in playing in Australia’s T20 Big Bash League in recent weeks, was caught by Ajinkya Rahane.
A great cameo knock from Buttler, who was ably supported by Samit Patel who nuddled the ball around for 24 off 21 deliveries lifted their side over the 150 mark.
India were strikingly good in the field – a stark contrast to the Test side’s efforts where fitness and concentration seemed to be lacking throughout the four matches.
Jade Dernbach bowled three wides and allowed India to get off to a flying start in their pursuit of England’s below par total.
Bresnan pulled things back with the wickets of Gautam Gambhir and Rahane but England were always under pressure with the hosts’ top six all chipping in.
Yuvarj hit 16 of his 38 runs came in the ninth over off Danny Briggs’ solitary over to put some breathing space between the two teams.
Aptly Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw his side home with 24 not out – showing all his experience and skill in this format.
England, who were without the rested Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Steven Finn, will need to improve greatly if they are to level the series in the final match on Saturday.