World T20: Harbhajan bowls India to victory
Colombo, Sep 23 - Harbhajan Singh scripted the perfect comeback story by bowling India to a convincing 90-run win over England in a Group A encounter at the R. Premadasa Stadium here Sunday night.
Harbhajan, playing his first international match in over a year, took four for 12 in a brilliant spell of spin bowling with Piyush Chawla (2-13) partnering him.
Good contributions from Gautam Gambhir (45) and Virat Kohli (40) at the top of the order propelled India to a fighting score of 170 for four. England were at sea against the Indian bowling and were bowled out for a paltry 80 in just 14.4 overs.
With both teams having qualified for the super-eights, India made four changes to the team that beat Afghanistan in their previous match.
Having being put in to bat, India surprisingly opened with Irfan Pathan (8) with Virender Sehwag being rested. The gamble though didn’t pay off as the all-rounder was castled by pacer Steve Finn.
Kohli, who scored a half-century in the previous game, again looked in great touch. Along with Delhi companion Gambhir, he forged a 57-run stand for the second wicket.
Graeme Swann in a fine spell of off-spin bowling got rid of the dangerous Kohli, holed out at deep mid-wicket.
Rohit Sharma’s heroics late on gave India the impetus to post a good score on a slowish pitch.
Like in their previous match against Afghans, England lost a wicket in the first over of their innings. Alex Hales (0), facing only his second ball, tried to hoick the ball onto the leg side but completely missed Pathan’s in-swinging delivery.
Craig Kieswetter (35) hit a couple of sixes to bring the English back into contention. However, with the introduction of spinner Harbhajan, England’s slide began.
Poor shot selection coupled with an inability to play spin bowling saw England reduced to 60 for eight in the 12th over.
Pathan took two wickets upfront while Ashok Dinda picked up a wicket late on as England recorded its lowest T20 total.