New Delhi:Despite some fighting knocks from skipper Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara, England fell short by 158 runs as India won the first One-Day International of the seven-match series in Rajkot.
After posting a mammoth total of 387 runs with the help Yuvraj Singh's unbeaten 138 runs and Virender Sehwag's flamboyant 85 runs, India bundled England for 229 runs at the Madhavrao Scindia Stadium on Friday.
Put in to bat first, Indian batsmen made merry after seeing through the first few overs. England's nemesis Yuvraj toyed with the bowlers to raise ninth ODI hundred, his second against the visitors. Yuvraj, who was suffering from a back spasm, dealt the bowlers in boundaries, and hit sixteen 4s and six 6s in his 78-ball long outing. Everything that he hit found itself on the other side of the rope. His hundred was the second fastest ton by an Indian.
Yuvraj was also instrumental in two key partnerships. He added 89 runs with Suresh Raina for the third wicket and 105 runs with skipper MS Dhoni for the fifth wicket. He walked away with the 'Man of the match' award.
Indian openers- Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir - gave a good start before spinner Samit Patel broke their 127-run partnership. Gambhir came dancing down the track to loft one from Patel. It lacked the distance as he was caught at long-off by Shah for 51 runs.
Sehwag, who bombarded England with boundaries, fell as Patel's second victim. He steered one from Patel but a vigilant Ian Bell at mid-wicket threw himself to his right and took a beauty to see the tormentor back in the hut. Sehwag made 85 runs in 73 balls with the help of ten 4s and three 6s. He slammed two consecutive sixes off Paul Collingwood and raised 30th ODI fifty, his third against the tourists. Gambhir, on the other hand, got his eighth half-century in 59 balls. Not that his innings was any less aggressive but it was definitely more subdued as compared to his opening partner.
Raina missed out on his fifty as Paul Collingwood take a sensational catch off Andrew Flintoff at backward point. Yusuf Pathan, who replaced him in the middle, could not contribute to the scoreboard. He was caught at midwicket by Bell off Steve Harmison for a naught. Harmison later picked Dhoni as his second wicket. He cleaned up his middle stump with a full delivery straight in line for 39 runs.
Backed by a huge score, Indian pacers struck straightaway. Munaf gave the first breakthrough when he dismissed opener Matt Prior for 4 runs. Prior edged one from Munaf and Sehwag took a sharp catch at first slip. New man Shah was Sehwag's next catch. He edged a fuller delivery from Zaheer and Sehwag dived to his left to take it successfully. Ian Bell was Zaheer's next victim. Zaheer teased him with a short and wide delivery and Bell edged it, only to taken by wicketkeeper MS Dhoni for 25 runs. Few balls later, 'Freddie' Flintoff was caught plumb in front and Zaheer picked his third wicket.
After warming the bench for long, medium-pacer RP Singh struck to remove Paul Collingwood for 19 runs. RP pitched a delivery outside the stump that angled in. England's former skipper edged it behind and Dhoni dived to his left to take a low catch. With Collingwood, half the English side was back in hut.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also contributed as he removed Samit Patel (28) with his 'doosra'. The ball pitched outside the off-stump and straightened. Keeper Dhoni made no mistake and stumped Patel for 28 runs.
Kevin Pietersen, who slammed a fifty, was caught short of the crease for 63 runs. A throw from Rohit Sharma was collected by Dhoni and bails were dislodged long before KP could reach home. After his dismissal, it was just a matter of time. Though, Ravi Bopara (54*) showed some character down the order and slammed his 3rd ODI fifty, his partners could not provide him enough support. Last two batsmen Steve Harmison and James Anderson fell without any contribution.
India and England play their second ODI at Indore on Monday, i.e. November 17.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh, Munaf Patel.
England: Kevin Pietersen (Captain), Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Andrew Flintoff, Samit Patel, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steve Harmison.
Umpires: Russel Tiffin and Suresh Shastri.