Yuvraj Singh produced a brilliant all-round display as India finally brought about some cheer for their fans with a comfortable five-wicket victory over England in the first Twenty20 International in Pune on Thursday night.
Man-of-the-match Yuvraj took three for 19 from his four overs to restrict England to a manageable 157 for six and then blasted 38 off 21 balls to set up an easy chase as the home team reached the target with 13 balls to spare.
After the humiliation in the Test series, the Indian team saw a change in fortune in the shortest format to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The turning point during India's chase was the eighth over when Yuvraj launched into inexperienced left-arm spinner Danny Briggs hitting him for 18 runs which included two huge sixes over the deep mid-wicket region and a boundary. Yuvraj also got another six in the 10th over bowled by Luke Wright before being dismissed trying to hit a fourth six.
Such was the impact of Yuvraj's innings, the other Indian batsmen didn't need to do anything special in order to reach the target.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina chipped in with useful contributions of 24 not out and 26 respectively.
Dhoni hit Stuart Meaker for successive boundaries and then took a double to finish with flourish.
Credit should also be given to openers Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane as they helped the hosts race to 41 within the first four overs taking full advantage of the Powerplay.
While Gambhir hit three boundaries in his 16 while Rahane hit two sixes in his 19. Although they didn't score many but they set the momentum.
Earlier, put in to bat, England scored a decent 157 for six. The vistors made a blazing start with opener Alex Hales making a whirlwind 56 in 35 balls with 7 fours and 2 sixes. He waded into the Indian new ball bowlers with great gusto before Yuvraj applied the brakes with a haul of three wickets in a space of 10 deliveries.
Coming on to bowl when England had raced to 76 for 1 in 8 overs, Yuvraj made a big impact as he packed off one down batsman Luke Wright (34 in 21 balls with 3 fours and a six), Hales and rival captain Eoin Morgan (5) in quick succession to after Ravichandran Ashwin had captured the wicket of the other opener Michael Lumb in his second over.
Hales, the 23-year-old Nottinghamshire opener playing his 13th T20 international for England, and Wright put on 68 runs for the second wicket before both departed and the England innings stuttered a bit before Jos Butler gave it the final impetus with a quick-fire unbeaten 33 in 21 balls with three sixes.
Bengal speedster Dinda came back for his second spell and captured two wickets in his third over which was the penultimate of the innings, by dismissing Samit Patel (24) and Tim Bresnan (0) to finish with two for 18 after Ashwin had conceded 15 runs in his last over.
Ashwin was carted for a six each by Patel and Jos Butler, who cracked 33 not out in 21 balls with 3 sixes, two of those off Awana's last over.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni who won the toss elected to bowl against England and took the field with a new-look side that saw Rohit Sharma benched in favour of all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Parvinder Awana made his international debut on Thursday.
England offspinner James Tredwell and pacer Stuart Meaker also made their T20 debuts.
Brief Scores: England: 157 for 6 in 20 overs. (Alex Hales 56, Luke Wright 34, Jos Buttler 33 not out; Yuvraj Singh 3/19, Ashok Dinda 2/18)
India: 158 for 5 in 17.5 overs. (Yuvraj Singh 38, Suresh Raina 26, MS Dhoni not out 24; Tim Bresnan 2/26, Luke Wright 1/24)
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