Morgan’s bowled over with victory
Tourists just too strong for India in T20 opener
ENGLAND outclassed India with bat and ball to win the opening T20I in Kanpur with captain Eoin Morgan quick to praise his bowling unit.
The tourists restricted India to 147-7 with Moeen Ali the pick of the bowlers, claiming 2-21 from his four overs, while Tymal Mills bagged his first wicket in an England shirt.
Adil Rashid was recalled to the side, but was not required to bowl a single ball with Mills and Chris Jordan both finishing with 1-27.
Jason Roy and Sam Billings then got the tourists off to a flyer before Morgan smashed four maximums in a classy half-century. Joe Root saw England home with 11 balls to spare, stroking an unbeaten 46.
Morgan admitted the chase would not have been so simple were it not for brilliant work from his bowlers. He said:“Our bowlers were outstanding tonight. Everybody within the unit produced and executed what we talked about in our plans – Moeen Ali in particular, on a wicket that didn’t turn a great deal. He showed all his experience.
“Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan – two people who came into the team after not being in the one-day series – also put their hands up tonight.”
ENGLAND had a glimpse of the future in Kanpur last night and it involved Sam Billings and Jason Roy opening in both the white-ball formats.
That is not to write off Alex Hales, whose broken hand ruled him out of the rest of this limitedovers tour after the second ODI in Cuttack. And let’s not forget that only last summer Hales hit England’s highest individual oneday score – 171 against Pakistan – of all time.
But his winter has been a nonevent, which was in part self-inflicted because he chose not to tour Bangladesh.
And while Billings has not made an unarguable case for inclusion in both the T20 and 50over sides, his audacity and ball-striking skills are simply impossible to ignore.
He is also a considerably better fielder than Hales.
Eoin Morgan said: “He’s in outstanding form. I watched him in the build-up to this series in the Big Bash and he struck the ball as well as anybody. We encourage him to enjoy the form he’s in. It’s easy to put pressure on yourself when the opportunity comes but he did brilliantly.”
It took England 14 balls to double the amount of sixes India managed in the whole of their innings. Only Suresh Raina, when he heaved Ben Stokes over mid-wicket, cleared the boundary in India’s innings.
The pitch was two-paced though England made it look much easier to bat on than the hosts. The way that India closed out their innings – happy to keep rotating the strike until MS Dhoni gave it a whack in the final over – suggested they thought their total was defendable.
England’s openers made a mockery of that. From the tenth ball of the innings, Billings walked across his stumps and flicked Jasprit Bumrah over fine leg for six. It was the sort of inventiveness which we used to expect and admire from Asian batsmen but times are changing.
And, best of all, the revolution is being televised.
Having been under a degree of pressure – not least because his own sketchy form was keeping Billings and Jonny Bairstow out of the 50-over side – Eoin Morgan has been in a rich vein of form this past week or so.
His century in the second onedayer in Cuttack was a masterclass in game management and deserved better than the 15-run defeat it yielded.
And yesterday’s innings of 51 from 38 balls, which included four of England’s seven sixes, was described as “world-class” by his opposite number, Virat Kohli. He held the chase together after both openers went in the space of four balls. He put on 83 in 11.3 overs with Joe Root, a perfectly paced partnership. Kohli had been moderately condescending about Tymal Mills before the game, saying he had not seen much of him and he had faced plenty of 90mph bowling before. True enough, but Mills
certainly was not overawed and it was instructive that Kohli was out, for 29, off Moeen Ali’s very first ball, to a sharp catch at midwicket from Morgan at mid-wicket.
Kohli was full of praise for England’s attack, saying: “England’s bowlers showed character and they deserved to win. They bowled better and they were smarter.
“Mills’ bowling out of the back of the hand was good and they executed pretty nicely. There were some loose shots from us as well – it was a combination of the two.”
The fielding gong went to Adil Rashid who, having pouched an easy one at backward square leg to get rid of KL Rahul, took an absolute blinder to dismiss Yuvraj Singh.
Rashid, who did not even get a bowl, would not be regarded as one of the better fielders in this England side but he raced in from the fine-leg boundary and clung on to a top-edged hook just as he was about the hit the turf.
Indeed, Yuvraj felt it had and it required a TV replay to send him on his way. It would have been so harsh on Rashid had that one been called back.
We’ve got him: Moeen Ali and captain Eoin Morgan celebrate the wicket of India's Manish Pandey while, below, Morgan and Joe Root cross during their key partnership
Top work: England skipper Eoin Morgan congratulates Ben Stokes on the wicket of Suresh Raina
Taking England home: Joe Root steers a shot into the leg side