England began Twenty20 World Cup year in emphatic fashion as they hammered India by eight wickets in the first game of their five-match series in Ahmedabad with 27 balls to spare.
Eoin Morgan’s side, who currently top the world rankings ahead of second-placed India, got off to a flying start as they took the early wickets of KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to reduce the home side to 3 for 2 in the first 2.3 overs.
Shikhar Dhawan soon followed, bowled by Mark Wood, and Rishabh Pant’s counter-attack was ended at 21 when Jonny Bairstow took a catch at deep square leg off the bowling of Ben Stokes.
Shreyas Iyer top-scored for India with 67, but England – led by the controlled spin of Adil Rashid and the probing pace of Wood and Jofra Archer – took wickets with regularity. Archer starred with 16 dot balls and final figures of 3 for 23 as India were limited to 124 for 7 in their 20 overs.
In response, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler mixed their natural attacking styles with a sense of calm as they went about chasing the modest target of 6.25 per over. The opening pair always looked in control, but still managed to mix in the odd big shot, with Roy in particular finding the middle of the bat with regularity.
The Surrey man launched a couple of huge leg-side sixes as England got well ahead of the rate before Buttler was trapped lbw by Yuzvendra Chahal for 28 with the tourists on 72 for 1 in eight overs, needing only 53 to win at barely four an over as Dawid Malan strode to the middle.
Roy followed not long after, going lbw to Washington Sundar for 49 off just 32 balls, but while the opener looked hugely disappointed not to have seen the job through England were already practically home. Bairstow’s subsequent arrival at the crease brought about a quick end, the Yorkshireman heaving a couple of mighty blows over the ropes on the way to 26 not out from 17 balls in support of Malan’s 24 off 20.
The sides meet again in the second match of the series on Sunday, with all five encounters taking place in Ahmedabad.