Three key breakthroughs and a middle-order blitz from all-rounder Yuvraj Singh carried India to a convincing five-wicket victory over England in Thursday's first Twenty20 International at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune.
Dropped from the Test XI earlier this month, Yuvraj remained unperturbed across a format that has served him well since his debut in 2007. Five years on, including a battle with cancer, the talented 31-year-old has come a long way - and sealed the penultimate fixture of the tour with an outstanding Man of the Match performance.
Opting to rest Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and James Anderson and sans the services of the injured Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, the visiting XI's new look flattered to consolidate England's bench strength. Michael Lumb lacked acceleration, Eoin Morgan's stand-in captaincy was uninspired and spin duo James Tredwell and Danny Briggs were weak in combination.
Home skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's choice to bowl first after winning the toss was the right decision, with India avoiding the dew in the field late in the evening - and England's order found wanting in the second half of their innings.
89 for one after 10 overs promised more, only for a final total of 157 for six to under-deliver. Key to the inadequacy was England's inability to attack Yuvraj, who accrued career-best figures of three for 19. The last of seven bowlers deployed, the left-arm spinner was the first to finish a full complement of four overs, which included the key scalps of Alex Hales (56) and Luke Wright (34) in the same over.
England's total would have read considerably poorer, too, had Jos Buttler's unbeaten 33 from 21 balls not bolstered the late surge. He was particularly fruitful against debutant fast bowler Parvinder Awana, who copped 16 runs from the innings' final over.
India's reply was a relatively straightforward affair, led by the left-handed Yuvraj's 38 from 21, three handsome sixes included. Suresh Raina brisk 26 and Dhoni's innovative 24 later made up the numbers, as triumph arrived with all of 13 deliveries to spare.
England's lone bowling highlight in defeat was the performance of Stuart Meaker. Bouncing back after dropping a catch at short fine-leg, the South African-born right-armer bowled with great pace and aggression, which eventually earned him the wicket of Virat Kohli.
The visitors will arguably regret the makeup of their XI, which missed the calibre of Jonny Bairstow, and certainly rue their ineptitude in the face of 10 wides - three of them coughed up by Jade Dernbach in a solitary over. India, meanwhile, have taken the first step to clinching the number one spot in the ICC T20I rankings.