Manchester: In the end it all came down to how both teams reacted to the batsmen's initial assault in the Powerplay overs. India were 49 for 1 after six overs, but never managed the much-needed partnerships in the middle and end overs. They also a suffered a horrendous collapse, losing their last five wickets for the addition of just seven runs. Embarrassingly they failed to bat through their entire set of overs.
England were 58 for 1 after the first six overs, and though they lost two quick wickets, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara's 73-run stand for the fourth wicket stabilised the innings and became the catalyst for victory. Even when Morgan departed, throwing open a slight window of hope for India, Bopara and Samit Patel fought off a few jitters before banging the window shut on the face of the desperate visitors, who are still searching for their first win against England on this tour.
Though injury meant India were missing out out on the services of Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, they had come into this match on the back of a hat-trick of wins in the last week in their tour games. England on the other hand had just played an ODI in Ireland and only a few players from this team had travelled to Dublin. Crucially the Indian cricketers have had more Twenty20 experience than their England counterparts, having been part of the IPL in the last four years and therefore more aware of the dos and don'ts, and pressures of the format. Yet it was Stuart Broad's England who came away smiling.
Broad felt that England won the match in the manner in which his bowlers responded after the debutant pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid had seized the momentum in the first ten overs. "We probably did not start as well as we would've liked to in the first 10 overs," Broad said. "We got that slightly wrong and we need to assess that. But the way we got it back was testament to the character of the side. To bowl India [out] in a T20 format is brilliant because wickets stop the scoring rate."
At the halfway stage India were 79 for 1 and looked set to end up in the vicinity of 200 with the likes of Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni still to bat on what was a relatively flat pitch. But Graeme Swann lured, challenged, and beat the Indians in the middle overs before Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan found their lengths to silence the middle and lower order.
"Both sides went for quite a few in the first six overs when they bowled with the hard, new ball and then it got a little bit harder to score. And that is where taking wickets in the middle period really helped us because we were able to slow it down after India got off to a flier," Broad said.
Though England's bowlers were on the short side in the initial half of the match, which Broad confessed was because he and rest of his fast bowlers were not hitting the "right lengths", they atoned for their errors in fantastic fashion in the second half because their intent was to get the wickets. "We managed to pick up pockets of wickets before Jade finished them off in the end. The final 10 overs was a really good performance from us - we fielded well, we kept pressure on the new batsmen who came out," he said.
Even his Indian counterpart agreed. According to Dhoni, one of the crucial reasons behind India's defeat was that they fell short of the desired target by at least 15 runs, and the reason that did not happen was due to a lack of partnerships in the final ten overs. Apart from his 41-run partnership with Raina - between the 14th and 18th overs - there was no other double-digit partnership for India in the last ten overs.
"We were may be 12-15 runs short in because we lost quick wickets in the middle overs which meant we could not score what we should have," Dhoni said. "It is a short format but even then people don't realise that it is important to have some form of partnerships going. In the short format you want to get 15-to-20-run partnerships especially after you lose quick wickets by the 12th over. You do not want to lose too many wickets, so that when you go into the slog overs, you have five to six wickets in hand. We should have batted the 20 overs but more importantly we needed those extra 20 runs."
Crucially India lacked a fifty bowler in the absence of Yuvraj, forcing Dhoni to turn to Kohli, who rarely bowls in this form of a game. "We were forced to push a bit hard on the bowling front as we did not have too many bowling options when it came to the fifth bowler. We had two offspinners and Virat who has not bowled too much in the Twenty20 format."