OLD TRAFFORD. — Eoin Morgan and his England players suffered their worst nightmare when they were teased and tormented by spin in the first Twenty20 International against India here yesterday.
With the sun blazing and the pitches parched, some cricket grounds look like they could be in Mumbai or Delhi.
And, guess what, folks, the Indians are in town.
Destroyer-in-chief in the first Twenty20 match at Old Trafford was a left-arm twirly man called Kuldeep Yadav.
He finished with 5-24 in four overs and his haul included Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root in the same over.
Bairstow and Root were both dismissed for golden ducks.
Even though Jos Buttler continued his golden form with an innings of 69, England were routinely thrashed by eight wickets with 10 balls to spare.
It was a chastening experience after England won all six white ball games against the Aussies.
England’s bowlers were put to the sword by K.L.Rahul, who plundered a century from just 53 balls
Rahul used to be known as a stodgy Test batsman — he scored 199 against England in Chennai in 2016 — but has reinvented himself as a Twenty20 dasher.
He tore into England’s bowling with a mixture of flowing drives and powerful pulls although it might have been different if Jason Roy had not dropped a straightforward chance at point off David Willey when Rahul was 17.
The big Indian contingent in the crowd even got to see their ultimate hero Virat Kohli face a few deliveries and the captain finished the job with a six off Moeen Ali. Kuldeep bamboozled England’s batsman with his wrist-spin, even though the ball did not actually turn that sharply.
Kuldeep is likely to be included in India’s squad for the five-match Test series, joining the likes of Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja, who are not involved in these white ball matches.
Before the Test matches, there are two more T20 games and a three-match 50-over series.
England have a long history of struggling against Indian spin and there was no sign last evening that they have solved the riddle.
How England will hope for some rain and overcast conditions so their seamers can dominate at home once more!
After being put into bat, England scored 53-1 in the first, six-over power play but then Alex Hales managed just eight from 18 balls.
The innings went into a tailspin in that fateful 14th over, during which Morgan, Bairstow and Root all perished.
Buttler was eventually caught in the deep and, although Willey briefly flourished with 29 not out from 15 balls, England’s total of 159-8 never looked like being sufficient.
Willey bowled Shikhar Dhawan in his first over but Rohit Sharma and, especially, Rahul accelerated India to a crushing win with a second-wicket stand of 123 in 12 overs.
In contrast to India’s spinners, Moeen Ali bowled 2.2 wicketless overs for 37 runs. At the exact moment Harry Kane slotted his penalty, Rahul pulled Plunkett for six into the crowd.
There were patriotic cheers — but they came from the thousands of Indian supporters inside Old Trafford who outnumbered the England fans. — The Sun.