England pacer Jofra Archer said bowling first on the two-paced Motera track gave them a bit of an advantage as they exploited the conditions early to beat India by eight wickets in the series-opening T20I on Friday. Returning from an elbow injury, Archer led England's bowling attack with 3 for 23 as they restricted India to 124 for 7 in 20 overs after skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bowl first.
"I was excited to bowl first because there was a bit of dew when we trained the other night .... getting on top of the conditions gave us a little bit of an advantage. It was a very good team performance on a slow wicket," Archer told reporters at the post-match interaction.
India lost three early wickets, including that of skipper Virat Kohli, who continued his poor form from the Test series after being dismissed for another duck. "He is a dangerous batter. To see him back early in the innings so many times is a bonus. It's kind of a dampener in their camp obviously being the leader of the side they expected him to score some runs. So it was some advantage to get him early," Archer said.
The series is seen as a build-up to the T20 World Cup slated in India later this year but Archer said they are not looking too far ahead. "It's just the first game of the series. We still have four games to go. They are number two in the world for a reason," he said.
Need to take care of my elbow
After missing two Tests in England's 1-3 series defeat recently, the 25-year-old fiery pacer bounced back strongly taking three for 23 to restrict India to a modest 124 for 7 in the first T20I at the Motera here on Friday. "I need to take care of my elbow first before I think about what is going to happen," Archer said in the post-match interaction.
"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."
Archer cleaned up KL Rahul in the powerplay, and nearly took a hat-trick in the death overs after dismissing Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur to help England win by eight wickets and go one-up in the five-match T20I series. "I'm just glad to have helped in the win. I'm just being honest, if I get one wicket or three, the way I bowl doesn't change. I think wickets just depend on how lucky you are at the time," he said.
Archer further said they all are on the same page as far as the workload management is concerned. "Obviously, I came to them (the medical team) during the Test series and said it's (my elbow) was not feeling right at the moment and I didn't have to say it twice, they automatically jumped on it and already started making plans. We are all on the same page."
England, who lost the Test series after winning the first Test in Chennai, are well aware of India's resilience and Archer urged caution after their convincing victory. "It's just the first game of the series, there are still four other games to go. They (India) are number two in the world for a reason so I don't think we can get ahead of ourselves as yet. It was a good win and we'll enjoy it," he said.
It was a sheer display of fine pace bowling in the Powerplay as the duo of Archer and Mark Wood consistently bowled in 140kph-plus. The consistency worked as Wood blew away Shikhar Dhawan's leg stump with a 148kph delivery. "I still try to cheer him, still to try to wind him up a bit," said Archer, known for their fiercely-guarded pace rivalry.
"It was good to see the ball carrying through and see the speed gun. Really exciting to see what he can do in the rest of the series.
"I still try to out pace him but I don't think I am in the best position to do it at the moment (elbow injury)," he said in a lighter vein.
On Friday, Eoin Morgan made a surprise move by handing the new ball to leg-spinner Adil Rashid after winning the toss. The gambit worked well as Rashid dismissed star India skipper Virat Kohli for zero, his third duck following two in the Tests. "You just love to see it when a plan comes off. Rashid is a world-class bowler and can bowl anywhere...," Archer said.
"Kohli is obviously a dangerous batter and to see the back of him early so many times is a real bonus. I think it probably might have dampened their camp a little bit," he said.
Archer said they were lucky with the toss as the conditions were slow. "I was excited to bowl first because there was a bit of dew when we trained the other night. But getting on top of the conditions gave us a little bit of an advantage. It was a very good team performance on a slow wicket," he said.
The second T20I is slated to be played once again at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday (March 14).