With the Test team on a well-earned break, Jos Buttler took charge of England for the first time since replacing Eoin Morgan as the country’s limited overs skipper.
For India, Rohit Sharma returned to the side after missing the 5th Test due to a Covid 19 infection.
However, it was Gujarat Titans all-rounder who stole the show for India.
Hardik Pandya smashed his maiden Twenty20 international half-century and took four wickets as India beat England by 50 runs in Southampton on Thursday.
In the opening game of the three-match series, Pandya powered to his 50 off 30 balls as India scored 198-8.
India won the toss, and Rohit Sharma opted to bat first.
Batting first, India started off with a high level of aggression.
The tone was set by Rohit himself, as he raced away to 24 runs off just 14 deliveries.
Hooda and Suryakumar kept the momentum with a strike rate in excess of 150 and scored 33(17) and 39(19) respectively.
Hardik then came in at number 5 after India lost Deepak Hooda, and the score read 89/3.
From the word go, Hardik started smacking the bowlers all around the park and got to his fifty in 30 balls.
Powered by his fifty, India put up a mammoth 198 on board.
India captain Rohit Sharma, back in the side after recovering from Covid-19, was rewarded for his decision to bat first as
Insisting England would be “really aggressive and not afraid of failure”, Buttler is following the template laid out by Stokes and McCullum as he prepares for the T20 World Cup in October.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar opened the attack for India and dished out a couple of out-swingers to Roy.
When Buttler came on strike on the fifth ball of the over, Kumar bowled a booming inswinger and sent Buttler, the most in-form and dangerous English batter of the lot, packing.
Hardik Pandya first came into the attack in the fourth over and sent both Malan and Livingstone back to the pavilion, effectively ending England’s chase.
Dawid Malan’s 21 from 14 balls featured four boundaries but Pandya bowled him and then dismissed Liam Livingstone to leave England wobbling on 29-3.
He later came back to get Curran and Roy out and ended with the figures of 4-4-33.
Pandya also became the only Indian player in the T20 format to score a fifty and take a four-wicket haul.
Harry Brook (28) and Moeen Ali, 36 from 20 balls, smashed a few boundaries to briefly give England renewed hope.
However, Yuzvendra Chahal delivered the knockout blows as the spinner dismissed both batsmen to put his side on the brink of victory.
England eventually folded for just 148 and lost the match by 50 runs.
The 2nd T20 is scheduled to be played on July 9 in Birmingham.
With the likes of Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Jadeja set to return, the team management will have to make some tough decisions.
That victory was England’s fourth in a row under Stokes and new red-ball coach Brendon McCullum.
India 198 for 8 (Hardik 51, Suryakumar 39, Hooda 33) beat England 148 (Moeen 36, Hardik 4-33) by 50 runs