England falter despite Hales fifty
3:12pm Thursday 20th December 2012 in © Press Association 2014
England faltered against Yuvraj Singh's spin, after a blistering half-century from Alex Hales, on the way to 157 for six against India in the first of their two Twenty20 internationals.
Yuvraj (three for 19), the last of seven bowlers used by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, rudely interrupted England's fun at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium after opener Hales (56) and Luke Wright had put them in an encouraging mid-innings position.
The tourists lost their last five wickets for 68 runs in the second half of their innings to finish with a vulnerable total on a good batting surface. Hales was almost single-handedly responsible for getting them off to such a promising start.
He dispatched Ashok Dinda for successive pulled fours in the first over - and after Michael Lumb was then unable to stop Ravichandran Ashwin beginning with a maiden, Hales took a heavy toll of first-change debutant Parvinder Awana and then Ravindra Jadeja.
He hit the slow left-armer for six over long-on, and repeated the dose off Ashwin too to take the score to 51 for one after the six-over powerplay. Hales raced to his 50 from just 26 balls, with seven fours and those two sixes - and he and Wright took the score to 89 for one at the 10-over mark, in a stand of 68.
But Wright got underneath an attempted big hit at Yuvraj and holed out at long-off, a dismissal which kick-started the loss of three wickets for 11 runs in 16 balls - all to the slow left-armer.
Yuvraj had Eoin Morgan dropped by wicketkeeper Dhoni on four, but bowled Hales who missed a drive at the very next ball - and then got the England captain for good measure in the same over, via another mistimed shot high to long-on.
Piyush Chawla's first over had cost 15 runs, but Dhoni took the opportunity to recall the leg-spinner - who bowled his next two for nine as Samit Patel and Jos Buttler tried to rebuild.
They progressed exclusively in ones, between the dots, for the next 16 balls - until Buttler clubbed the returning Ashwin over midwicket for six. Patel's attempt at a maximum, off Dinda, resulted only in a third catch in the deep for Ajinkya Rahane.
Then, despite the best efforts of the innovative Buttler in a career-best 33 not out, including successive sixes in Awana's 20th over, it seemed England might have fallen short of a defendable target.