Pune: 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 here tonight.
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, 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. Gambhir and Rahane's dismissals for the addition of three runs in four balls left India at a shaky 44 for 2 and they were 52 for 2 at the end of six overs of Powerplay.
Earlier put in to bat, England 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 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. Awana, and Chawla leaked plenty of runs.
Earlier, Hales - the 23-year-old Nottinghamshire opener playing his 13th T20 international for England and fourth against India, carted Dinda to the mid wicket fence twice with glorious pull shots when the home side medium pacer pitched
Nine runs came off the first over and then after Ashwin bowled a maiden to the other opener, left handed Michael Lumb – the second over of the innings – Hales smashed debutant Awana with two powerful leg-side hits for four, again pulling with disdain after stepping out against the Delhi bowler to loft him to the on.
Ashwin drew first blood with his first ball of his second over when Lumb, having been kept quiet in his first over, tried an ill-advised cross-batted heave and was trapped right in front. With both the medium pacers proving expensive in their opening overs, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought on Ravindra Jadeja only to see the left arm spinner crashed over long on for a six by Hales and then pulled to long leg for a four as the score jumped at an alarming rate for the home team. England finished the Powerplay period at 51 for 1.
Though the field was spread out, Hales and one down batsman Luke Wright picked gaps with ease against the clueless Indian bowling attack. Chawla was hit for three fours by Wright in his first over and then the batsman smashed Virat Kohli for a straight six. Hales then completed his 50 off just 26 balls with seven fours and two sixes before England placed themselves in sight of a huge total at 89 for one in 10 overs.
Yuvraj, brought on to stem the run flow, struck in his second over when he had Wright stepping out to hit an aerial shot which was taken by Rahane at long-off. Yuvraj then sent back danger man Hales and England captain Eoin Morgan in the space of four balls to stem the flow of runs.
The second and final T20 International will be played on Saturday.