Yadav, Rahul orchestrate convincing win over England in first T20I
KL Rahul and Kuldeep Yadav stamped their class yet again as India put on a dominant display to defeat England by 8 wickets. It was an all-round performance by the Indians, who were clearly the better side on Tuesday.
Put in to bat on a flat, hard, Old Trafford wicket, the Englishmen were off to a solid start thanks to wonderful knocks up the order by Jason Roy and Jos Butler. But once Roy departed, the run rate slowed down considerably in the middle overs. Alex Hales, the new man in, barely managed to make contact with the ball before he was bowled round his legs by Kuldeep Yadav, and his first wicket of the evening.
It was then time for Kuldeep to take control of the proceedings. His third over being the 'magical' one. The first ball was a conventional leg break to which Morgan tried to free his arms but failed to connect, the bat turning in his hands, and holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Then Butler took an easy single to bring new batsman Johnny Bairstow on strike. To Bairstow, Yadav tossed the ball up in the good length area for him to drive. Bairstow lurched forward, not realising that it was the wrong 'un, and missed the ball completely. Dhoni did the honours by clicking off the bails to send Bairstow on the long walk back to the change room. Then came Joe Root.
You would expect a batsman of his calibre to be able to deal with Kuldeep. But it was not to be. Root got a delivery very similar to the one that dismissed Bairstow, and he made the same mistake that Bairstow made. He leapt onto the front foot, completely misreading the trajectory of the ball, only for Dhoni to clip the bails off with one hand. Wicket number four in the bag for Yadav.Three wickets in four balls.
Butler was the only Englishman who managed to pick Yadav, and that was because he looked to wait for the ball and play on the backfoot whereas the others looked to play him forward. But even he miscued one in Yadav's last over, only to be dropped by Rahul. Yadav was in agony over this. He thought he had missed his fifer. But he got his man just two balls later, as Butler found Kohli on the long on fence.
For all those who feel that raw power and out-of-the-box shots are a must for T20 cricket, Rahul proved every one of those people wrong. Chasing 160 to win, he gave the perfect example of the devastating effect that you can have even without playing those cross batted shots.
All his shots on Tuesday were straight out of the textbook, barring two reverse sweeps that he played. Great balance, big stride out, weight leaning forward, head straight, and the perfect bat swing.
This feature of his was on display in the IPL too where he lit up the tournament with his performances. It was a gem of an innings, filled with powerful but elegant strokeplay. Though he was dropped twice, once on 17 by Roy, and then on 37 by Jordan, he made the most of his reprieves by scoring his second T20I hundred.
England's dismal showing
England were well off their game on Tuesday with both bat and ball. Their mighty batting lineup, fresh from a record-breaking effort against Australia, failed to live up to their expectations. No one except Buttler looked comfortable in the middle.
Even their bowling was in tatters as Rahul and Rohit plundered them to all parts of the park. The quicks gave too much room and the spinners were inconsistent with their length.
All this must be kept in mind as they prepare for the second game, if they want to stand any chance of winning.