Morgan-Root set up easy victory for England in first T20

England, hardly let India feel good about its showing at any stage. Notwithstanding a opening charge led briefly by Virat Kohli, England seized control, struck at regular intervals and kept India to psychologically important sub-150 total.

Thanks to unbeaten Joe Root and half-centurion Morgan, England strolled past the finish-line with seven wickets and 11 deliveries to spare.   -  Reuters

India’s Republic Day ended as England’s evening of celebration. The paying public returned home disappointed from the Green Park Stadium after the famed Indian batted came a cropper.

Also, for a change, the England bowlers proved they were not so bad, after all the hammering received in two other formats of the game in India.

> Full Scorecard

England, the 2016 World T20 finalist to West Indies, hardly let India feel good about its showing at any stage. Notwithstanding a opening charge led briefly by Virat Kohli, England seized control, struck at regular intervals and kept India to psychologically important sub-150 total.

Eoin Morgan hardly put a foot wrong after the coin fell in his favour. As indicated on the eve of the match, he asked Kohli’s men to bat. The bowlers did their job, the catches were taken and in spite of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brief flicker, India was restricted to 147.

Given the depth in England’s batting, the only way India could have scuttled the chase was by taking wickets. Barring the twin-blow by Yuzvendra Chahal in his opening over, England never look in any serious danger of falling short.

Eventually, thanks mainly to unbeaten Joe Root and half-centurion Morgan, England strolled past the finish-line with seven wickets and 11 deliveries to spare.

Sam Billings set the pace by plundering 20 runs, smashing a six and three boundaries, off Jasprit Bumrah in the second over. As a result, the starring run-rate of close to 7.50 was straightaway sliced by one.

Ashish Nehra and leg-spinner Yazuvendra Chahal were also hit for a six each in the overs that followed. For the next few minutes, England’s chase hit a speed-breaker when Chahal, still in his first over, sent back the openers.

Immediately after being hit for a slog-sweep six, Chahal bowled Jason Roy off the inside-edge. Two deliveries later, Billings stepped out and ‘yorked’ himself.

Root and Eoin Morgan chose to rotate the strike, avoided risky strokes, and slowly but surely swung the match England’s way. After settling down, they did not miss opportunities to send the ball over the ropes, including an amazing flicked six by Morgan.

After Morgan’s fourth six to reach 51, debutant Pervez Rasool scalped the left-hander and ended the 83-run stand in 11.3 overs, England was not worried about scoring 22 runs off the remaining 28 balls.

Before the distance was covered, Bumrah bowled Root twice in succession – first off a no-ball and then off the ‘free-hit’ ball. Thereafter, England crossed the finish line with plenty to spare.

If India fell short by at least 30 runs to set a challenging target, it had a lot to do with the length bowled by the English bowlers. The consistent back-of-the-length deliveries meant the batsmen could not drive at will and were made to play more on the back-foot.

To make matters worse, some short, rising deliveries proved wicket-taking and India stayed under pressure. From a bright start, after Kohli chose to open with K. L. Rahul, things swung England’s way.

Jordan surprised Rahul with the short, rising delivery to provide the breakthrough. The introduction of Man-of-the-Match Moeen Ali ended Kohli’s innings.

The re-introduction of Liam Plunkett lured Yuvraj to his doom, much like the return of Tymal Mills resulted in the dismissal of Hardik Pandya.Off these wickets, Kohli fell to a catch, made to look easy. by Morgan. Kohli struck the ball firmly but Morgan showed quick reflexes at midwicket to pouch a low catch.

Yuvraj Singh, soon after finding the straight boundary, miscued the ball to fine leg where Adil Rashid took a tumbling catch. Following a ‘soft signal’ from the umpire declaring the batsman out, the decision was referred and Yuvraj dismissal stood confirmed.

Raina, looking in good touch on his return to the National team, followed soon. Stokes produced a yorker-length delivery – probably the ball of the day – that kissed the leg-stump.

Dhoni who batted from the 11th over, scored 12 runs off the final over bowled by Jordan. But that was not to prove sufficient on this day.