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England go back to the drawing board as super India raise bar higher

 

By David Clough

England’s winning white-ball run came to a juddering halt at Old Trafford as India stormed into a 1-0 lead at the start of the Vitality IT20 series.

Jos Buttler’s seventh Twenty20 half-century in his last eight attempts, dating back to his Indian Premier League heroics for Rajasthan Royals, hinted at much better than England’s eventual 159 for eight after being put in.

Kuldeep Yadav did the damage with some brilliant variations and deceptions for his maiden five-wicket haul at this level, and then on a glorious evening KL Rahul (101no) made short work of the chase as India prevailed with eight wickets and 10 balls to spare.

In front of a noisy 23,000 crowd, dominated by Indian support, the conclusion was long foregone once Rahul raced to his 50 from just 27 balls in a second-wicket partnership of 123 with Rohit Sharma.

He escaped one chance when Jason Roy put him down at point off David Willey on 17, but was otherwise imperious as he cashed in his second Twenty20 international hundred with 10 fours and five sixes on a very good batting surface.

Whereas England’s spinners could make no difference, Kuldeep had stopped the home batsmen in their tracks as they lost three wickets in one over and five for 22 after reaching 95 for one.

The home innings was very much one of two halves — before and after the left-arm wrist-spinner’s intervention.

In the second instalment, there were three golden ducks and only one double-figure score between eight batsmen after Buttler (69) and Roy had shared a 50 opening stand.

Kuldeep (five for 24) conceded a boundary to Buttler from his first delivery.

He then mixed up his pace wonderfully, however, to flummox England, who were left to contemplate a reality check following last month’s six-game white-ball whitewash of rivals Australia.

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