Moeen Ali picked two crucial wickets of Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey    IANS
Moeen Ali picked two crucial wickets of Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey IANS

England beat India by 7 wickets and took a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20I series, thanks to Moeen Ali’s career-best bowling figures of 4-0-21-2. However, Kanpur’s Green Park did not witness a run-fest, for their home team failed to adapt to the conditions and score in excess of 160. England, on the other hand, batted exceedingly well, chasing down 148 with 11 balls remaining, courtesy Eoin Morgan‘s fiery half-century. Regardless, they played well as a cohesive unit, performing equally well in all the departments. Both teams will now head Nagpur to play the second encounter.

The track of uncertainty: Cracks, rough patches, bounce, tinge of grass the wicket was an amalgamation of Nagpur, Chennai, Mumbai, Mohali tracks and whatnot. Maybe the curators took the name Green Park literally. For that matter, even the batsmen were caught between a lot of maybes.

Whether to play on the front foot or rock back was a question that left the batsmen confused. For a change, no one complained about bowlers being taken to the cleaners. For a change, no one whined about it being batsman-friendly. Eoin Morgan, however, would beg to disagree.

Captain Morgan achieves new high: I always wanted Morgan to attain a new record, not because I am a follower of his, but I was keen on using the rumly pun.

Morgan reached 1,500 runs, becoming the first Englishman to do so. He also slammed 38-ball 51 to give a lead for the first time on this taxing tour.

Kohli opens as well as opens up: It s still a mystery. Let me walk out. When you see me walk out, you will know where I am batting (smiles), Virat Kohli had said before the match.

When he announced the playing XI, the mystery had lost its thrill, given there was no Mandeep Singh or Rishabh Pant.

Kohli came, scored 29 off 26, but could not display the Kohli show, for he seemed to have found it difficult to churn out runs with ease on this track of uncertainty. However, Kohli went on to explain why he jumped up in the batting position (he actually went on and on, but here is the gist):

“I open in IPL and that is a T20 tournament. So I have an idea (of how to go about it) and that is why I went in to open. I did not go there to look special. Everyone anyway was expecting that. My opening gives more balance to the team. You can have an extra batsman in the middle order, a player like Suresh Raina gets more dangerous at 3, so when Rohit is not around as an opener, I can anytime step up because it provides more balance.”

Adil Rashid the fielding specialist: He did not bat, for England lost only 3 wickets. He, much to our surprise, did not bowl as well. Maybe Morgan may have forgotten about his existence. Maybe he had a fight with Morgan in the dressing room. Maybe he dismissed Morgan during the practice session.

Maybe Morgan may have forgotten about his role, albeit he took a stunner, diving forward, to dismiss Yuvraj Singh and then misfielded at fine-leg. Rashid did everything to catch Morgan’s attention, but was not given a single over, albeit there was something for the spinners. Or, maybe Morgan pulled off a Steve Waugh, as the former Australian captain thought dropping Shane Warne would be a good omen to beat India. Maybe Morgan always wanted to emulate Waugh. I tell you, there was uncertainty throughout the match.

Moeen Ali and his invisibility cloak: He had bowled at an economy of 6.04 in the three-match ODI series that saw six 300-plus scores. He scored runs at 28.33, with a stunning strike rate of 130.76.

I would not call him a silent killer, for he is much saint-like, minding his business but with distinction. In other words, he does everything that is asked of him but never gets noticed.

In today’s contest, he got rid of Kohli off his very first all and gave away only 21 runs off 4 overs. And he was rightly awarded Man of the Match.

Suresh Raina nearly takes it: After scoring 34 off 23 in his comeback match, Raina nearly pulled off a ripper at deep mid-wicket boundary.

He took a high catch, shifting his weight towards the boundary and eventually losing control. Nonetheless, he threw the ball inside at the last moment, saving a certain six.

Root bowled but no-ball, Root bowled again but…: We witnessed comedy error towards the end of the match. India were nearing a certain defeat, but the wicket must have been a moment of respite for them. However, that did not last long as Jasprit Bumrah had overstepped, resulting in a free hit.

Root was yet again knocked over off the free hit. Pity the square leg umpire that he had to set the stumps again. Also, maybe Joe likes his stumped being uprooted (again, for the sake of pun).

Other highlights: In all honesty, this match did not create fascination compared to the ODI series. Come to think of it, it is good to know that the fastest and shortest format can yield little excitement at times. Anyways, MS Dhoni stayed unbeaten on 36 off 27 to maintain his superior average, Jason Roy and Sam Billings fired on all cylinders to give England a blistering start, Ashish Nehra went wicketless, and Yuzvendra Chahal took two wickets in an over.