A YOUNG England side led by Eoin Morgan fell to the most predictable of defeats in their opening Twenty20 match against India at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
After losing the toss and being put in by India captain MS Dhoni, England's total of 157-6 never looked enough on a pitch as flat as the Pune-Mumbai expressway which runs beside this ground.
Alex Hales hit 56 and Jos Buttler 33 as England succumbed to the talents of Yuvraj Singh, who took 3-19 from his four overs and then top-scored in India's reply with 38.
For Dhoni, who has been under siege after overseeing his country's first home Test series defeat to England in 28 years, the match ended perfectly as he hit the winning runs in the 18th over off Stuart Meaker to help India coast home with five wickets and 13 balls to spare.
Despite a thunderous half-century from opener Hales and Buttler striking a rapid 33 off 21 balls at the end of England's innings, the tourists' total of 157-6 was, in Morgan's words, "probably about 10 or 15 short of par".
Too few runs at the interval became a case of too wide by the bowlers.
Former Ireland star Morgan gave the new ball to Jade Dernbach, whose first two deliveries were leg-side wides. The Surrey bowler erred again and his nine-ball opening over set the tone for an indisciplined bowling display.
"We said at the halfway stage we would have to do things exceptionally well to win this game because the wicket did play so well and we just lacked a bit of discipline really," said Morgan.
Dernbach's new-ball partner Tim Bresnan followed up his first-ball duck in England's innings with a first-ball wide and was hit for a third-ball six as the bowlers handed out early presents to Gautam Gambhir and Ajinkya Rahane.
The bowlers' generosity came in sharp contrast to the brutality with which the England batsmen had initially set about the Indian attack.
After a ponderous one from nine balls at the top of the order from Michael Lumb, Hales and Luke Wright set off at a blistering pace.
Hales brought up his 50 off just 26 balls with an atypical single but when he was clean bowled by the left-arm spin of Yuvraj, he had added just six more runs from nine balls as the wheel nuts began to wobble.
Two balls later, the wheels fell off as Morgan offered Rahane a simple catch at long-on.
When Samit Patel hit Yuvraj for four in the 15th over, it was England first boundary for 26 balls, and they were on their way to defeat. (© Independent News Service)