England crash to heavy defeat

Salisbury Journal: India's Harbhajan Singh took 4-12 as England were all out for just 80 India's Harbhajan Singh took 4-12 as England were all out for just 80

England faltered alarmingly to Harbhajan Singh's off-spin on the way to their lowest Twenty20 international total and heaviest defeat at the Premadasa Stadium.

A hard-working performance with the ball helped Stuart Broad's team restrict India's stroke-players and power-hitters to 170 for four after he had chosen to bowl first under lights in this final ICC World Twenty20 Group A match.

But in a contest of little tangible consequence for two teams already through to the Super Eight stage, defending champions England lost two early wickets to left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan and then repeated their worrying history of haplessness against sub-continental spin. Harbhajan finished with Twenty20 international career-best figures of four for 12, as he and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla wreaked havoc to set up India's 90-run victory.

Rohit Sharma had top-scored with an unbeaten 55 from 33 balls, including five fours and a last-over six over point off the expensive Jade Dernbach.

But Graeme Swann - the only spinner selected by England - bowled well as India threatened to cut loose with the bat but never quite did.

England's response did not start well as Alex Hales missed a heave to leg at Pathan to be bowled for a duck. In-form number three Luke Wright got off the mark by hitting Pathan for a six over long-off, only to go lbw to the next ball when he missed an attempted pull.

England still had a powerhouse middle-order on paper, but Harbhajan made short work of Eoin Morgan, out-thinking the left-hander and knocking out middle-stump as the left-hander tried to cut one that scuttled on with the arm.

When Bairstow also went in Chawla's first over, smearing to leg and missing a googly, there were some uncomfortable echoes already of England's travails in the sub-continent and Asia for much of last winter.

Opener Craig Kieswetter had clubbed two early sixes off pace but edged a Chawla leg-break to slip, and Tim Bresnan picked out deep square-leg with a sweep at Harbhajan.

England had gone from 39 for two after five overs, before the introduction of spin, to 54 for six after 10. A recovery was highly unlikely, and did not materialise, before England were all out for 80 in only the 15th over - eight runs short of their previous-worst total in this format.

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