England succumb to the spin of Harbhajan and Chawla as India hand their opponents a 90-run drubbing

In an arguable decision, India left out their big stars Zaheer Khan and Virender Sehwag for their final Group A game of the T20 World Cup against England at the Premadasa Stadium, but handed their opponents a 90-run drubbing, chiefly due to a fabulous performance by 'substitute ' spinners Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla on Sunday.

Both the tweakers had question marks against their selection for this tournament, but against a set of batsmen who need fresh lessons in playing spin, they looked unplayable, says a report in The Times Of India, adding that Harbhajan finished with remarkable figures of four for 12 in his four overs, while leggie Chawla took two for 13 off his quota, as England, in a shameful batting performance, wound up for 80: their lowest T20 score.

Cheered on by their enthusiastic fans, who have travelled here in large numbers to watch their favourite stars in action, India had made 170 for four, thanks to Rohit Sharma's attractive 55 off 33 balls (5x4, 1x6), Gautam Gambhir's 45 (38 balls) and Virat Kohli's 40 (32 balls).

Meanwhile The Hindu writes that a combative spinner making his comeback to the blue shade after a year’s hiatus and a young batsman trying to cement his place combined wonderfully well to help India defeat England by 90 runs in an ICC World Twenty20 Group A match at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Sunday.

Harbhajan Singh’s four for 12 and Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 55 (33b, 5x4, 1x6) provided the perfect platform for India to stun England into submission and top the group. Chasing India’s 170 for four, England collapsed to 80 in 14.4 overs.

“Irfan Pathan made early inroads, scalping Alex Hales and Luke Wright, and once Harbhajan castled Eoin Morgan — the southpaw tried to cut a delivery that was too close to his body — there was a buzz in the Indian ranks.  That wicket in his very first over gave a huge fillip to the spinner, and with Piyush Chawla too bringing his leg-breaks into play, England was cornered,” says the report, adding that Chawla cleaned up Jonny Bairstow and also nailed Craig Kieswetter, England’s top-scorer for the day.

“Harbhajan bowled unchanged and his line that threatened the stumps completely unsettled the English batsmen. They beat a steady retreat much to the delight of the Indians while the comeback hero flung his hands heavenwards in thanks. Earlier, Rohit infused some belated energy to the Indian innings before the finish line. Rohit’s knock — as is always the case when he is on song — had elegance written all over it,” adds The Hindu report.

Meanwhile The Indian Express reports that earlier, Rohit came good in an international match as he planned his innings to perfection, hitting an unbeaten 55 off 33 balls with five fours and a slashed six off Jade Dernbach. “An upper-cut off England captain Stuart Broad was also a treat to watch as the Mumbai youngster finally repaid the faith shown by his skipper who persisted with him despite repeated failures,” says the report, adding that Gambhir also scored an useful 45 off 38 balls, hitting five boundaries in the process as the Indian side which have six specialist batsmen did admirably well against the English pace quartet.

“The four-pronged pace attack of Broad, Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn and Dernbach used the short ball liberally to test Gambhir but he played the horizontal bat shot with a lot of control. In-form Virat Kohli looked good during is 32-ball-40 as he set the tempo with a fluent knock,” adds the report.