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COLOMBO: Harbhajan Singh ran circles around England as India stormed to a massive 90-run win over their rivals in a Group 'A' match of the ICC World Twenty20, on Sunday night.
Making a comeback to International cricket, the off-spinner snared four wickets, conceding just 12 runs in his four overs, as England were destroyed for 80 in 14.4 overs - their lowest ever Twenty20 total - in their chase of India's 170.
Harbhajan's figures of 4-2-12-4 are the best by an Indian in Twenty20 Internationals. Piyush Chawla carried out his supporting duties well, picking up two wickets for 13 runs, including that of the well-set Craig Kieswetter.
Rohit Sharma (55*) had earlier - in conjunction with Gautam Gambhir (45) and Virat Kohli (40) - taken India to 170-4 after England elected to field. The total proved more than a handful for the Poms as they struggled to get going.
Irfan Pathan, who had also opened batting for India, got the breakthrough when he bowled opener Alex Hales for a duck with an inswinger in the first over. In his next, Pathan trapped Luke Wright in front, although the decision bordered on the contentious. England were 18-2 in 2.4 and it all went downhill from there.
Harbhajan came on in the sixth over and struck when Eoin Morgan had his stumps flattened by a quicker arm-ball. Next it was the turn of the perpetually debatable inclusion named Chawla. The leg-spinner cleaned up Jonny Bairstow with the googly and nailed Kieswetter with one that spun away and took the edge, travelling to Kohli at slip.
With half the side down for 56, there was no way out for England, and Harbhajan slammed the door shut on them in his next two overs. The sardar claimed Bresnan on a top-edged sweep, and then reaped a brace of victims in his last over, the 12th of England's innings. A visibly terrified Buttler was bowled backing away, and Graeme Swann marched down the wicket to a doosra and was duly stumped - giving Bhajji four wickets and the Man of the Match award in his comeback game.
Ashok Dinda ended England's misery when he claimed Stuart Broad, leaving India winners by huge margin.
Earlier, Rohit's dominating fifty took India to a more than competitive total on a wicket that appeared to be slightly slower than originally anticipated. The supposed carry in the pitch compelled England to opt for Tim Bresnan instead of the slower Samit Patel. In hindsight, the move backfired.
Bresnan and Stuart Broad went for almost nine an over, and fellow fast bowler Jade Derbach for eleven apiece off his four - as India were untroubled by the short stuff hurled at them. The only bowler to cause worry was off-spinner Swann, who came on after the Powerplay and turned in four miserly overs for just 11, also picking up the in-form Kohli's wicket.
With both teams through to the Super Eights, India too had rung in the changes. Virender Sehwag, R. Ashwin and Zaheer Khan made way for Dinda, Harbhajan and Chawla. The extra bowler necessitated the bumping up of Pathan to the opening slot. But Pathan struck just a sweet four off Steve Finn before the bowler uprooted his off-stump with a full delivery, leaving India one down in the third over after England elected to field.
Gambhir and Kohli added 57 in under 8 overs to get India back on track. Kohli got going with boundaries off Finn and Broad and had four hits to the fence in his first 20 runs. India reached 52-1 at the end of the Powerplay. Another Kohli four off Bresnan brought up the fifty partnership. Swann meanwhile had slipped in two overs for just 10 runs. In his third, the 11th over of the innings, the English offie beat Gambhir, then on 26, in flight, but Kieswetter fluffed the stumping.
One ball later Swann drew Kohli into a hit straight to deep midwicket, causing the Indian star to storm off the pitch mouthing a selection of profanities. Rohit walked in and gathered his runs at par initially to take India to 114-2 in 15 overs. Gambhir was finally out for a patchy 45 when he edged a slow Finn off-cutter to Kieswetter, but Rohit kicked in with two fours in Broad's 17th over of the innings.
The disfigured ball was changed in the 19th over, and the new sphere was greeted savagely by Rohit in the last over of the innings, bowled by Dernbach. A six and a four gave the young batsman his fifty in 31 balls and elevated India to 170-4, as 17 came from the final over.
Dhoni, meanwhile, was out to a joint venture at the long on boundary. Buttler dropped out of the boundary going for a catch, tossed the ball back in, where it was safely pouched by Hales. India smashed 51 runs in the last four overs. Considering the ineptness of English batsmen against spin, 170 was a few lightyears out of reach.
Harbhajan spins England into a tizzy
Rohit, spinners hand India massive win over England.Yahoo! Cricket – Sun 23 Sep, 2012 10:44 PM IST
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