MANCHESTER: Kuldeep Yadav claimed his maiden Twenty20 international five-wicket haul and KL Rahul struck his second century in the format as India began their tour of England with an impressive eight-wicket victory at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Left-arm spinner Yadav finished with 5-24 as England were restricted to 159-8 after they collapsed from 94-1 following India skipper Virat Kohli’s decision to insert the hosts at the toss.
Jos Buttler was the only England batsman to cause the India attack any trouble on his way to 69 from 46 balls before he also fell victim to the beguiling spin of Yadav.
India then confidently chased down the total in 18.2 overs as Rahul –- dropped on 17 by Jason Roy — mixed finesse with some brutal hitting as he whacked five sixes and 10 fours en route to an unbeaten 101 off 54 balls.
England’s form in ODI cricket has seen them climb to number one in the world in that format, but their T20 side remains a work in progress.
After they whitewashed Australia 5-0 in their ODI series and won the only T20, hopes were high against India.
However, their explosive top order toiled against Yadav which will be of particular concern for the respective limited overs and Test challenges ahead during the remainder of the English summer.
India removed Roy in the fifth over when he mistimed a pull shot off seamer Umesh Yadav (2-21) through midwicket and ended up chopping on to his stumps for a 20-ball 30.
However, Buttler continued to play confidence and swagger –- a switch-hit for four off Yuzvendra Chahal being the most eye-catching of his strokes.
He brought up his half-century –- seven balls more than his record-breaking fifty against Australia off 22 — with a six off Hardik Pandya heaved over deep square.
Buttler could initially only stand and watch at the other end as Kuldeep Yadav caused havoc with his guile and clever use of googlies as England collapsed from 95-1.
Alex Hales was his first victim after his pedestrian innings of eight runs from 18 deliveries was brought to an end when he was bowled following an attempted slog-sweep.
India’s fans were on their feet waving their flags on a sun-drenched evening in Manchester when England skipper Eoin Morgan (7) skied a delivery from Yadav and into the hands of India counterpart Kohli at deep midwicket.
They celebrated even more wildly three balls later when Yadav captured Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root without scoring in successive deliveries.
Bairstow was outfoxed by Yadav’s wrong ‘un and stumped by Dhoni before the keeper repeated the trick with Root.
England’s lower-order batsmen then came and went quickly — with Buttler also undone by yet another googly from Yadav as he was caught straight down the ground by Kohli –- although David Willey’s 29 off 25 balls boosted the hosts’ total.
India’s batsmen oozed class as they went about the chase in a confident fashion after Willey removed Shikhar Dhawan, with Rahul in particular showing his quality as he brought up his half-century off 27 balls with a late cut off Adil Rashid.
Where Yadav had been imperious, England’s spinners appeared toothless by comparison with Rashid and Moeen Ali only rarely able to trouble the tourists.
With Rahul striking the ball so cleanly, Rohit Sharma seemed to content to play the anchor role as he made 32 off 30 balls before driving Rashid (1-25) into the hands of Morgan at extra cover.
It was merely a blip for India and with the hard work done earlier in the innings Rahul and Kohli took a largely risk-averse approach.
In the 18th over Rahul clipped Willey of his legs with four then nudged a single to move on to 99 and then brought up his century, from 53 balls, off the last ball of the over when he steered a short one through midwicket.
All that was left for India to do was to hit the winning runs and Kohli did so in style, launching Moeen for six down the ground, which secured the win with 10 balls to spare.