KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan smashed fifties to provide a good hallmark of the strength of the Indian top order as the team led the team to a seven-wicket win over England in the first practice match of the T20 World Cup on Monday. England scored 188 for five after being invited to bat first, with contributions from Jonny Bairstow (49 off 36 balls) and Moeen Ali (43 not out from 20 balls). For India, Mohammed Shami took three wickets for 40 runs. Rahul scored 51 runs in 24 balls with the help of six fours and three sixes, while Ishan made 70 runs in 46 balls, which included seven fours and three sixes. Both of them added 82 runs in 50 balls for the first wicket. In the end, Rishabh Pant (29 not out off 14 balls) and Hardik Pandya (16 not out off 10 balls) took the team’s score to 192 for three in 19 overs.
Captain Virat Kohli had made it clear at the time of the toss that in the main matches, Rohit Sharma and Rahul would open the innings and they would come to bat at number three. Rohit was rested in this match and was replaced by Ishan, who made his claim firmly. Rahul and Ishan took an aggressive approach after sensing the conditions in the first three overs. Chris Woakes dropped Ishan’s catch in the third over of the innings. When Woakes came to bowl the next over, Rahul scored 18 runs on him by hitting three fours and a six. Ishan hit two fours and a six in the next over of Mark Wood. Rahul welcomes Chris Jordan and Moeen for a six. He completed his fifty by sending Wood for four runs at extra cover, but the next ball was also caught in an attempt to hit it over cover.
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Ishaan continued his form and ‘clean hitting’. He messed up England’s middle overs strategy by hitting two sixes and two fours on Adil Rashid in the 12th over of the innings. Out of these, Ishan completed his half-century with the second six. Kohli scored 11 runs off 13 balls and was given a simple catch at backward point off a turn-taking delivery of part-time spinner Liam Livingstone. In this way, England got some advantage of trying seven bowlers of Jos Buttler, who was captaining in place of Eoin Morgan. Pant started off by hitting two consecutive sixes on Moin. After this, Ishan missed two consecutive catches, but he himself left the crease to give the other batsmen a chance to practice. Suryakumar Yadav, who came in his place, however, returned to the pavilion after scoring eight runs.
Hardik Pandya did not bowl, but he came out to bat. India needed 20 runs in the last two overs. Hardik took the pressure off Jordan by hitting three fours. Pant hit the winning six on the ‘free hit’ off the last ball of the same over. Earlier, Kohli decided to field first after winning the toss to gauge the dew situation as India would decide their bowling combination on this basis when they open their campaign against Pakistan on October 24. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah took the new ball for India, while Shami came in as the first change. While Bhuvneshwar focused on getting the momentum, Bumrah and Shami adopted a strategy to put pressure on the batsmen.
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Of the three fast bowlers, however, Bumrah (1 for 26) proved to be the economical one while Shami proved his ability to take wickets. He did not allow Jos Buttler (18), Jason Roy (17) and Livinstone (30) to take advantage of a good start. Bumrah did not allow Bairstow to complete the half-century but Bhuvneshwar could not catch the momentum till the end. He conceded 54 runs in four overs. Moeen hit four fours and then two sixes in his last three balls and maintained his IPL form.
Ravindra Jadeja and Varun Chakraborty are set to get the responsibility of the spin department in the main matches and in such a situation, there is a contest between Ravichandran Ashwin and Rahul Chahar for the third spinner. Experienced Ashwin made a good effort to contain the batsmen in the middle overs. Chahar bowled David Malan (18) but gave away 43 runs in four overs. Livingstone took 17 runs in his one over. India will play their next practice match against Australia on Wednesday, while England will face New Zealand. Australia beat New Zealand by three wickets in another practice match on Monday. New Zealand scored 158 runs for seven wickets. Australia chased down the target in 19.5 overs for the loss of seven wickets.