Harbhajan Singh grabbed 4-12 on his return after a year in the wilderness as India demolished defending champions England by 90 runs in the World Twenty20 on Sunday.
Rohit Sharma hit an unbeaten 55 off 33 balls as the new-look Indians scored 4-170 before England were shot out for their lowest T20 total of 80 in front of 20,000 spectators at the Premadasa stadium.
India rested seamer Zaheer Khan, spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and opener Virender Sehwag for the group A match that held only academic interest since both teams had already qualified for the Super Eights.
But it was a morale-boosting win for the 2007 champions ahead of the next round, as they dominated England from start to finish.
Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said Harbhajan’s return has given him multiple bowling options, allowing offspinner Ashwin to be rested.
“We have a problem of plenty right now, but I am quite happy with the problem of plenty than looking at who is our fifth bowler,” Dhoni said.
“I have seen Bhajji (Harbhajan) bowl better. If you read the circumstances of this performance, coming back after a period of time, getting a chance where he has to prove himself, it’s very great.”
England captain Stuart Broad played down the defeat, saying the match was an opportunity to try out four seam bowlers.
“It (the defeat) does not change what we did. It’s not we are going home or anything - we are still hopping on the bus to Kandy,” he said of England’s Super Eight matches in Kandy.
Harbhajan, 32, who had been out of favour with the selectors since August last year before being recalled for the World Twenty20, claimed a wicket off his second delivery, called to bowl the sixth over.
When his spell finished in the 12th over, England had slumped to 8-60 and lost their ninth wicket also at the same total.
England were in danger of falling for the lowest ever total in Twenty20 internationals - 67 by Kenya against Ireland in 2008 - before the last-wicket pair of Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach prevented the humiliation.
But the total still fell below England’s previous lowest score of 88 against the West Indies at the Oval last year.
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was also an unexpected selection for the match, claimed 2-13 as England faltered against both pace and spin.
Other notable contributions for India came from Gautam Gambhir, who made 45, and Virat Kohli, who smashed 40 off 32 balls.
Makeshift opener Pathan fell for eight before the in-form Kohli hit six boundaries during a second-wicket stand of 57 with Gambhir.
Sharma and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni took 38 runs in the last three overs to lift India past the 150-run mark.