India seek series win at Mumbai

Playing Twenty20 is where the home team is most comfortable at.

Test discard Yuvraj Singh can impose himself on the shorter formats like few cricketers can.

MUMBAI:
The former Supreme Court judge and current Chairman of the Press Council of India, Markandey Katju, unleashed a riot with his recent eruption that branded 90 percent of Indians as ‘idiots’. It is not known how many at Pune’s Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday belonged in that category. But the way they celebrated India’s comprehensive win over England in the first Twenty20 International pointed in only one direction.

Finding themselves again in their comfort zone – colored clothing, bright lights, raucous support and limited overs – India and her legion of fans finally got a chance to let it all out. England were flattened with 13 balls to spare as Man of the Match Yuvraj Singh – who had struggled to put bat on ball in the Test series – came to the show with a characteristic all-round performance.

At one stage, the camera caught a spectator proudly holding aloft a banner that stated ‘We’ll show England now’. And show they did: forty-thousand cheerers who crowed themselves hoarse like programmed roosters and in whose heads the loss of a vital Test series was now relegated to a musty, rarely-accessed corner of the brain. For India’s cluster of paid-for media groupies too it was a chance to vent their vocal chords, elevate a solitary Twenty20 victory onto a pedestal from where greater redresses could be enacted – Pakistan, after all, are penciled in next, and what could be more important than masterminding an ODI/Twenty20 shellacking of the oldest foe?

Also read: Brilliant Yuvraj
Also read: Early start to Ind-Pak ODIs
Also read: The unfortunate Manoj Tiwary

So be it. Confining ourselves to the immediacy of the moment and in the momentary forgetfulness of an important competition lost, India’s next target is a clean sweep at Mumbai, where they take on England’s new-look Twenty20 side in the second and last fixture of the series. The positives at Pune, as much as can be inferred from the raw material of 40 overs – were obvious. Yuvraj turned the match around with his 3/19 after Luke Wright and Alex Hales threatened to take the match away from India; Ashok Dinda was fast and economical, the batsmen all had starts before Yuvraj, MS Dhoni and his Chennai Super Kings teammate Suresh Raina all but finished it off in a hurry towards the end.

It was an easy win for India and the perfect way to commence international scheduling at a new stadium. But there were causes for concern too. Debutant pace bowler Parwinder Awana was pummeled out of the attack, his two overs leaking 29; R. Ashwin struggled for consistency; and the openers Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane squandered a good start. But once set a target below 160 (at one stage 180 looked imminent) India hit their straps like only they can at home, in this format.

A series closing win at Mumbai, which would be a tepid salve for the deep wounds sustained in Tests, is within the home team’s grasp now. England’s touring T20 party, which has Tim Bresnan and Samit Patel as the two retainers from the Test series, struggled to put a cap on the hosts' belligerent batting on Thursday. Left-arm spinner Danny Briggs and offie James Tredwell's were both carted around with disdain. Although Stuart Meaker’s extra pace proved to be tough to put away, Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach were both expensive.   It is how England’s bowling tackles the likes of Virat Kohli, Raina, Yuvraj and Dhoni on Saturday that may well determine if they go back for Christmas losers or with a shared series.

The teams
India
(from): Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, MS  Dhoni (c & wk), Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, Ashok Dinda; England (from): Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Joe Root, Jos Buttler (wk), Eoin Morgan (c), Jonny Bairstow, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Samit Patel, Stuart Meaker.
Time: 13.30 GMT (19.00 local)


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