Shikhar Dhawan launches into a sweep during an attacking innings of 98 in Pune on Tuesday. Image Credit: PTI

Kolkata: Shikhar Dhawan, senior Indian opener, and KL Rahul signalled a welcome return to form as India showcased their rich depth of talent to hand England a 66-run defeat in the first of the three One-day Internationals at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) ground in Pune on Tuesday.

Dhawan, who along with Rohit Sharma had been the architects of many a memorable win in white ball cricket for India, was unlucky to miss out on a well-deserved century when he was caught by Eoin Morgan off Ben Stokes for a fluent 98 off 106 deliveries (11 fours, two sixes). Rahul, who looked totally short on confidence in the just-concluded T20 series as opener, found his niche at number five with a graceful 62 off 43 deliveries as India piled up the runs on the board with 317 for five wickets.

The eventual scoreline, however, does not reflect the trend of the game as England openers Jonny Bairstow (94) and Jason Roy (46) roared to 135 without no loss till debutant Prasidh Krishna struck to remove the dangerous Roy.

‘‘It was one of our sweetest victories,’’ remarked Indian skipper Virat Kohli who chipped in with a mature half-century. ''We haven't won many good games in ODIs. I am a really proud man right now, the team showed great character and intensity,'' he added.

It was a day when both his debutants Krishna (4/54) and Krunal Pandya vindicated the faith the team management showed on them. Krunal completed his 50 in 26 balls to record the fastest fifty for an ODI debutant and later choked up with emotion while dedicating the innings to his father who died in January.

Pandya smashed an unbeaten 58 off 31 balls and Kohli hit 56 after the hosts were put in to bat. The left-handed Krunal put on an unbroken stand of 112 with wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul as India finished with a flourish.

Stokes struck first with his pace bowling, claiming Rohit caught behind for 28. He returned figures of 3-34 from eight overs.

Dhawan, who didn’t get enough game-time in the last T20 series and with question marks hanging heavy on his career, put on 105 for the second wicket with Kohli. He made his 31st ODI fifty with a six off leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

Kohli reached a run-a-ball fifty but fell to pace bowler Mark Wood after he miscued a hit to deep square leg and Moeen Ali took the catch.

Dhawan, who was dropped on 59 by Moeen at deep mid-wicket, fell short of his hundred after he mistimed a pull off Stokes to get caught by Morgan.

He hit 11 fours and two sixes in his 106-ball knock before getting out in the nineties for the fifth time in 137 one-day innings. The 35-year-old has 17 centuries.