India humbled in Ahmedabad as Jofra Archer proves his T20 firepower for England

Jofra Archer proved he had enough fitness, form and firepower to help England kick off their Twenty20 series against India with a resounding win, but admitted his troublesome right elbow was still holding him back.

Adil Rashid celebrates the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli of India during the first T20 International in Ahmedabad. Picture:  Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI (via ECB).
Adil Rashid celebrates the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli of India during the first T20 International in Ahmedabad. Picture: Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI (via ECB).

Archer missed two matches in the recent Test series due to recurring pain in the joint but he was more than able to make his presence felt across four high-class overs in Ahmedabad, taking 3-23 as India were kept to a modest 124-7.

That was never likely to be enough to worry a stacked England line-up, even on a tricky surface, and Roy’s bullish 49 at the top of the order left no doubt. Yorkshire pair Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan finished things off with a handful of sixes, including the latter’s winning blow over the top.

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“I’m just glad to help in a win to be honest. When the competition’s tough you have to step up,” said Archer. “It brings out the best in me. If get one or I get three, the way I bowl doesn’t change, it just depends on how your luck is at the time.

Jofra Archer impressed for England in Ahmedabad against India, finishing with figures of 2-23 from his four overs. Picture: Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI (via ECB)

England know that Archer has a good deal more than luck to offer as they build towards their twin goals of the T20 World Cup and the Ashes tour later this year.

But it is almost certain that his elbow will require further careful management and he was clear that his strong performance on was not the result of any wondrous overnight recovery.

“We are all on the same page: I came to them (during the Test series) and said it’s not feeling right at the moment and I didn’t have to say it twice, they automatically jumped on it and we started making plans,” he added.

“I need to take care of my elbow before I think about what is going to happen. For me, in the immediate, I want to get through this series and then I will do everything in my power to make sure I’m going to the World Cup and the Ashes.”

GOT HIM: Adil Rashid celebrates the wicket of India captain Virat Kohli during the first T20 International in Ahmedabad. Picture: Saikat Das / Sportzpics for BCCI (via ECB).

England captain Morgan started the evening by springing a couple of surprises, leaving Moeen Ali out of the XI and then handing his sole spinner, Adil Rashid, his first ever new ball stint in the format.

Rashid typically does his best work through the middle overs but he set a strong tone, allowing just two off the first over. Archer kicked off at the other end and duly upped the ante, turning in a wicket maiden and seeing off the world’s No 3 batsman, KL Rahul, who dragged down his own stumps.

Captain Virat Kohli was next up and, after wearing an early blow from Archer on the glove, he was on his way for a five-ball duck. Rashid was responsible this time, drawing him into an unusually inelegant hack to mid-off and fully justifying Morgan’s switch-up.

England turned a good powerplay into a brilliant one when Mark Wood joined the attack, cramping Shikhar Dhawan from round the wicket before taking out leg stump at 92mph.

That left India on 22-3, with a quite outrageous reverse-scooped six from Rishabh Pant against Archer their only real moment of joy.

Pant (21) flicked Ben Stokes straight to Bairstow to make it 48-4 at halfway and India would have been down and out without Shreyas Iyer’s measured 67. He hit eight fours and one six as he shouldered the responsibility.

Archer reasserted himself, lighting up his second spell with two wickets in two balls. Hardik Pandya fell first, chipping to mid-off, and Shardul Thakur pulled a lively bumper straight to long-leg. Chris Jordan closed out the innings, taking Iyer with him courtesy of a fine catch from Malan.

India badly needed Axar Patel to reprise the habit of instant breakthroughs that proved so devastating in the Test series, but Roy and Jos Buttler shut his first over down successfully.

That done, Roy got cracking. There was four off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s third ball, a swipe for six off Yuzvendra Chahal and then a cut shot mis-fielded for four.

Buttler followed by stroking a boundary through cover and hammering a huge six over long-on. At the end of the powerplay, the pair had wiped exactly 50 from the target.

Buoyed by the scoreboard, Roy heaved Patel for six more and treated Chahal to the same treatment. Chahal’s leg-spin pinned Buttler in front for 28 to ease the one-sided tone and Roy was gone one short of a half-century, leg before to Washington Sundar.

With Malan anchoring, Bairstow had some fun with two mighty sixes down the ground that left Chahal nursing an economy rate of 11. The Yorkshireman exchanged some heated words with Sundar when the bowler accused him of obstruction, before he finished on 26 not out.

England captain Morgan praised pacemen Archer and Wood for their serious speed.

“One of Jofra’s strengths is that he can bowl really fast and Mark’s super-strength is that he can bowl fast” said Morgan. “It’s hard to do the whole time. But when he bowls like that it’s not only very good entertainment but it’s also great to have him in your side.

“The plans were very basic, hit a good length and be straight. We didn’t have to go to Plan B and Plan C very often, and that’s a good sign when the bowling unit has to do that.”

On Roy’s power at the top of the order, Morgan said: “Within the side, there’s a huge amount of competition for places. When Jason scores runs and goes well, it really does gee the boys up.

“We are trying to cover all departments, particularly when we’re put under pressure or under the pump. Today the guys were so good they didn’t allow that to happen.

“Throughout the series there will be continuous challenges and we will be up against it a lot of the time. So it is important for those moments to produce your best.”

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