NEW DELHI, Mar 28 (AFP): Harbhajan Singh celebrated his comeback with a superb all-round show to guide India to a 39-run victory over England in the first one-dayer here on Tuesday.
The off-spinner, who missed a one-day series in Pakistan last month due to a finger injury, finished with 5-31 as India defended their modest total of 203 by dismissing England for 164.
England were comfortably placed at 117-3 before losing their last seven wickets for 47 to concede a 1-0 lead in the seven-match series.
Harbhajan was also India's batting hero, top-scoring with a gutsy 37 on a bowler-friendly pitch. He eventually upstaged England seamer Kabir Ali, who took 4-45 for his maiden international four-wicket haul.
Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan did the early damage when he had Andrew Strauss caught behind with an outswinger and then trapped Owais Shah leg-before with one that came in sharply in his dramatic opening over.
Pathan ended the innings with the wicket of Liam Plunkett. Part-time spinner Yuvraj Singh also chipped in two wickets, including that of Kevin Pietersen.
England's chances receded sharply when Ashes heroes Pietersen (46) and Andrew Flintoff (41) fell in quick succession.
The pair threatened to take the game away from India with their aggressive knocks before Yuvraj got the crucial breakthrough. Pietersen was caught at the mid-wicket boundary while attempting a big shot.
England captain Flintoff was trapped leg-before by Harbhajan in the next over.