Kuldeep Yadav snaps up five, bamboozles England in first T20

England’s worst fears came true in the first hour of their series opener against India as Kuldeep Yadav exposed their spin frailties with a five-wicket haul, including three off four balls, in the first T20 game at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

All the confidence England batsmen gained with their high-scoring efforts in the just-concluded series against Australia had evaporated within an hour-and-half of the start as England were restricted to 159/8.

Jos Buttler waged a lone battle with a brisk 69 but Kuldeep’s 5/24 punctured the innings with a career-best haul.

Playing spin was the battle the home team were dreading and proof came in the first 14 overs after Virat Kohli won the toss and put England into bat.

Bowling the 14th over, Kuldeep silenced the home crowd with wickets off the first, third and fourth balls to again expose England batsmen’s weakness against top-quality spin bowling.

Skipper Eoin Morgan was his first victim, holing out to midwicket for a six-ball seven. Jonny Bairstow was bamboozled by a wrong ’un for a first-ball duck. Joe Root met the same fate and walked back embarrassed as Dhoni had enough time to complete the stumping though he had failed to collect on first attempt and the ball seemed to get stuck under his helmet grille.


England came all guns blazing against the new ball. In the first four overs, it was absolute mayhem. They had raced to 44/0 with Jason Roy 29 off 17 balls, and Buttler 15 off seven balls. Worst of all, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who was to provide a real test to the England batsmen, had been plundered for 16 runs in his first over, the fourth of the innings with Roy hitting a four and Buttler a four and six.

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But the IPL stalwarts have been in this position before. They soon pulled things back to restore order. Umesh Yadav started the fightback with the wicket of Roy, doing in the batsman with extra pace and bounce to get an inside edge on to the stumps.

Hardik Pandya, Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav followed it up with three-run, six-run, seven-run, six-run and five-run overs from the sixth to the 10th. They dried up boundaries and Buttler had to wait for a full toss on the last ball of the 8th over to find the fence. After 10 overs, England were 77/1, not great progress from 50 in five.

Buttler did break the shackles imposed by Pandya in the 11th over, carving him for two fours and a six off the first three balls, but Kuldeep struck from the other end to put the pressure back on. Alex Hales would have heaved a sigh of relief to be castled by Kuldeep after being made to feel miserable, getting to just eight off 18 balls.

England’s first over hitting against Chahal proved a false dawn. Soon, the Indian wrist spinners were doing what they were feared to do, working their magic with variations. It was fascinating as Chahal and Kuldeep had the in-form batsmen in knots with subtle changes in flight and line. Chahal had Buttler’s number by testing him with an outside-the-off line, just inside the wide line. Chahal conceded just 18 off his last three overs to finish with 4-0-34-0.

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