'A pretty complete performance' - Morgan
Eoin Morgan hailed his bowlers' collective effort after they set up a seven-wicket win, which the captain called a "pretty complete performance" during the first T20 in Kanpur. After winning only one of their eight matches on tour so far, England kept control by taking wickets at regular intervals and stifling India's batsmen in the end overs on Thursday.
Morgan was especially praiseworthy of Man of the Match Moeen Ali who bowled four straight overs in the middle and finished with 4-0-21-2, his best T20I figures including the wicket of Virat Kohli with his first delivery, and Morgan did not use their limited-overs specialist spinner Adil Rashid at all.
"It was a pretty complete performance certainly," Morgan said. "As complete a performance as any we've produced on this trip. To win the toss and bowl is always a bit extra pressure on the bowlers to produce exactly what's needed on that particular wicket especially bowling at a guy like Virat first up. And I thought we handled that pretty well. Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan coming into the side pretty fresh showed exactly why they're in the side and selected in the first game in this series, they were outstanding I thought.
"Then Moeen was so good in the middle, showed huge amount of experience. I thought he bowled outstandingly well, not getting carried away with what he was trying to bowl or bowl too aggressively. Just nailing his basics and I thought that was a big factor in the game. Then obviously finishing well; when you got to bowl to MS [Dhoni] at the end, especially when he's faced 10-15 balls already, it's very difficult, coming in and nailing the skills. CJ and Tymal were brilliant."
Morgan said not bowling Rashid, despite including him in place of Jake Ball, was a factor of the pitch and the result of a discussion he had with Jos Buttler.
"I sort of made the decision, I think it was about eight or nine overs when Liam [Plunkett] came back. I think Stokesy bowled an over. We sort of looked at the wicket and it deteriorated a little bit. The slates in the middle started to move. I had a chat with Jos about bringing Liam back on or go on with Adil, I sort of decided that Liam was the best option given those circumstances. But certainly, you are right about the control of the game. Everything about it felt really good. Generally, when things go well, you might have one over and they get carried away and give 15 or 20."
England executed their yorkers much more consistently than in the one-day and improved on their accuracy in the death overs that helped restrict India to 147 for 7. Morgan said reducing India to what Kohli called a "below-par score" was a factor of Kohli's early wicket and the slower balls the England bowlers used smartly.
"I thought it [slower balls] were executed very well," Morgan said. "They could have bowled bad slower balls, there are two types. But I thought they bowled really well. You are always going to see them bowled in T20 games. But how well they bowled is obviously matter of how they are played. I thought we executed them really well.
"It was extremely important to get Virat out. The bowlers did an exceptional job. He is always looking to come hard at you. So to keep him quiet is always a good sign for us."
Kohli, himself, was equally magnanimous in his assessment of the England bowlers who he has dominated for much of the tour.
"For sure they showed character," he said. "They were better with the ball; smarter in the areas that they bowled even at the death. Jordan hit some really nice areas, even Mills bowling back of the hand at the end was pretty good with the slower bouncers.
"They executed what they wanted pretty nicely and you could tell they were playing more freely, they were not thinking about conceding too many runs which was evident in their body language and credit to them, they bowled in good areas and made it difficult for us to score off."
Even though chasing 148 against India, who played two spinners, cannot be taken lightly, opener Sam Billings ensured England's asking rate fell sharply to under seven an over when he smashed Jasprit Bumrah for 20 in the second over. Billings, playing his second match of the tour, was dismissed for a quick-fire 22 off 10 in the fourth over and though that was the second wicket to fall in three balls the start had given England plenty of breathing space.
"Personally, I think he is in outstanding form at the moment," Morgan said. "I watched all the games he played in the Big Bash. In the build-up to this one-day series, he struck the ball as good as anybody. We encourage him to enjoy the form that he is in. I know he has not played a great deal of cricket and it is easy to put yourself under pressure when the opportunity comes.
"Part and parcel of taking the opportunity is to be relaxed enough and backing your game. He has done that tonight. When you are chasing a small total, coming out and stamping your authority is a part and parcel of setting the tone of the innings. I think he did that magnificently well for a guy who has played just eight or nine games."
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo