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Pandya stars as India beat England in T20 opener

India's Hardik Pandya celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Dawid Malan. -- AFP
India's Hardik Pandya celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of England's Dawid Malan. -- AFP

Southampton, United Kingdom, July 7, 2022 (AFP) - Hardik Pandya blasted his maiden Twenty20 international half-century and took four wickets as India beat England by 50 runs in Southampton on Thursday.

In the opening game of the three-match series, Pandya powered to his 50 off 30 balls as India scored 198-8.

The 28-year-old hit six fours and one towering six, off Matt Parkinson, before being dismissed for 51 in his 43rd T20I innings

Pandya's fireworks came after Suryakumar Yadav (39) and Deepak Hooda (33) had set the tone with some flamboyant shots.

Pandya tormented England with the ball as well, taking 4-33 from his four overs as the hosts could only manage 148 in their limp run-chase.

India captain Rohit Sharma, back in the side after recovering from Covid-19, was rewarded for his decision to bat first as the tourists gained a small measure of revenge for their stunning Test loss to England earlier this week.

"It was a great performance from ball one. There was an intent shown by the batters," Rohit said.

"Hardik prepared himself wonderfully from the IPL. His bowling is something he wanted to do more of. He came in, bowled quick, and got rewards for his variation.

"The opening bowlers swung the ball well which stopped England's batters in the powerplay. We took it into consideration with the toss."

England had routed India by seven wickets in the fifth Test as Ben Stokes' side authored the highest Test run chase in their history.

That victory was England's fourth in a row under Stokes and new red-ball coach Brendon McCullum, with their astonishingly successful start inspired by a daring committment to aggressive strokeplay.

With the Test team on a well-earned break, Jos Buttler took charge of England for the first time since replacing Eoin Morgan as the country's limited overs skipper.

- 'India were fantastic' -

Insisting England would be "really aggressive and not afraid of failure", Buttler is following the template laid out by Stokes and McCullum as he prepares for the T20 World Cup in October.

But Buttler perished for a golden duck, just five balls into England's chase, when he was bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar's inswinger.

"We've been outplayed today. I thought India bowled fantastically well and we couldn't get back in the game from that point," Buttler said.

"It has probably swung for as long as I can remember in a T20 match. We needed to hit it in the stands to stop it swinging. But credit to India I thought they were fantastic."

Dawid Malan's 21 from 14 balls featured four boundaries but Pandya bowled him and then dismissed Liam Livingstone to leave England wobbling on 29-3.

India's swing bowling was too much for England and Jason Roy had made only four from 16 balls when he was removed by Pandya.

Harry Brook (28) and Moeen Alli, 36 from 20 balls, hammered their share of boundaries to briefly give England renewed hope.

India dropped six catches, but Yuzvendra Chahal delivered the knockout blows as the spinner dismissed both batsmen to put his side on the brink of victory.

India's T20 debutant Arshdeep Singh claimed his maiden international wickets. The 23-year-old pace bowler removed Reece Topley and Parkinson to put the seal on the visitors' dominant display.

India can clinch the series at Edgbaston on Saturday before the finale at Trent Bridge on Sunday. -- AFP

Brief scores:

India 198-8, 20 overs (H Pandya 51) bt England 148, 19.3 overs (H Pandya 4-33)

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