KANPUR: Skipper Eoin Morgan Thursday hailed England’s “outstanding” bowling performance after Moeen Ali’s superb spell set up a comprehensive seven-wicket win over India in the first Twenty20 international in Kanpur. Chasing a modest 148 for victory, England rode on the third-wicket 83-run stand between Morgan (51) and Joe Root (46 not out) to romp home with 11 balls to spare. But it was off-spinner Ali’s career best 2-21 that helped England take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series at Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium. Ali justified his captain’s decision of bowling first as he struck on his opening ball to send back opposition skipper Virat Kohli for 29. The wily spinner not only got another wicket in Manish Pandey but also dried up the flow of runs to put pressure on an Indian batting line-up that suffered from lack of partnerships. “I thought our bowlers were outstanding tonight. Everybody within the unit produced exactly what we talked, we executed our plans,” Morgan said on Thursday. “Moeen Ali in particular I think showed great resolve on a wicket that didn’t really turn a great deal.” In reply, Billings, who hit a 10-ball 22, came out all guns blazing as he smashed paceman Jasprit Bumrah for 3 fours and a six to set the pace. “Whenever you are chasing a low total, getting off to a flier is always a huge positive. It releases any pressure on guys coming in. Sam Billings and Jason Roy did outstandingly well,” said Morgan. Billings shared a 42-run opening stand with Jason Roy (19) before leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal removed the openers in the space of four deliveries to leave England at 43 for two. But Morgan and Root, who returned to the side after missing the third ODI in Kolkata with a niggle, kept the chase on track with their attacking brand of cricket.
Morgan, who recorded his eighth T20 fifty, struck a four and 4 sixes during his 38-ball knock as he carted the Indian bowlers to all parts of the ground. Debutant Kashmiri off-spinner Parvez Rasool removed Morgan to claim his first T20 wicket but not after the left-handed batsman had taken the game away from the hosts. Earlier former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni fought a lone battle with his unbeaten 36 to take India to 147 for seven after the hosts were reeling at 98-5 in the 14th over. Kohli, who led the T20 side for the first time since taking over from Dhoni as India’s permanent limited overs captain, opened the innings along with Lokesh Rahul (8). The star batsman attacked from the word go with a few boundaries against the England pacers but ran out steam after chipping away a catch to midwicket off Ali. The hosts continued to lose wickets as batsmen Suresh Raina (34) and Yuvraj Singh (12) let go of their respective starts to hand the visitors an early advantage. Dhoni piloted the innings with his calculated 27-ball knock with three boundaries, two of which came in the final over but his effort was not enough to give India a competitive total. Ali apart, seamers Tymal Mills, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett and Ben Stokes claimed a wicket each. “Credit to their bowlers, they bowled good hard lengths…with extra pace and bounce. We would have liked to execute that as well, but we were about 30-35 runs short on that wicket,” said Kohli. The second match is slated for Sunday in Nagpur.