India beat England by eight wickets in their first T20I at Old Trafford on Tuesday, in a match that slipped under the radar of most English sporting fans, who were otherwise engaged, watching their football team win a penalty shoot-out against Columbia in the World Cup.
The match though provided a salutary lesson to the English players ahead of the summer series against the tourists. Having proved that playing spin was the weakness of the Australian players in their recent ODI series and T20 match, they showed their own fallibility in that department when faced with bowlers of superior quality.
Put into bat, England got off to a decent start, with Jason Roy and Jos Buttler putting on 50 for the first wicket before Roy fell to Umesh Yadav for 30. Alex Hayles and Buttler looked to press on, but then Indian skipper Virat Kohli brought left-armed spinner Kuldeep Yadav into the attack, and the game changed immediately.
Mixing up his flight and bounce, he proved too much for the English to handle, as he took the next 5 wickets to fall, ripping through the top and middle order, as the home side slumped from 106 – 2 to 117 – 6 in little more than two overs.
Buttler looked to counter-attack with David Willey, but even he could not save his side on this occasion, and he became Yadav’s fifth victim, out for 69. Willey was unbeaten on 29, but the final England score of 159/8 was well below par.
India reached their target with ease, despite the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan, bowled for just 4 by Willey.
However, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul then added 123 for the second wicket, with Rahul in particularly good form, although he was dropped twice, on 17 and 37. Sharma fell in the 13th over for 32, but there was still time for Rahul to complete his century, as he and Kohli steered India to an easy victory with ten balls to spare.
At the end Kohli was undefeated on 20 and Rahul 101, including 5 sixes. Despite that, he was beaten to the man of the match award by Yadav with his 5 for 24.