Impressive England destroy India

The 7 game ODI series between England and India has begun with an emphatic victory for the hosts. Coming out of a Test series that finished as an Indian victory, both sides looked completely dissimilar to the ones that fielded in whites just weeks ago. The Indians looked ragged in the field, with their seamers, so magnificent at Trent Bridge and The Oval, lacked cutting edge, and the batting lineup failed to fire and showed a dangerous lack of sense when running between the wickets. England, on the other hand, did everything that they had failed to in the last 10 years or so of ODIs. Not one but two batsmen built centuries as the batsmen scored heavily and quickly, whilst the bowlers were incisive and the fielders sharp.

The only area in which the hosts could be faulted was in the use of the opening overs and powerplays as the batting side. After Rahul Dravid, expecting to be able to chase whatever England put infront of him, won the toss and elected to bat. The English batsmen scored at only 4 an over for the first 18, with the brightest moment being Matt Prior striking Zaheer Khan for six in his shortlived innings of 19. In Khan’s next over, Zaheer suceeded in chipping the ball to Dravid at mid off to give India their first wicket.

The tourists were made to work far harder for the another, though. Alistair Cook and Ian Bell rarely looked out of control in their innings. Whilst neither are likely to to dominate bowlers in ODI cricket, both slowly and steadily pushed the run rate up.

Both particularly took advantage of the spinners, Piyush Chawla, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, with Bell hitting a straight six off Chawla as his 7 overs went for 42. The seamers were no better and only Zaheer Khan and RP Singh fared any better, only just managing to go for under 5 runs an over. Cook brought up his century first, but only lasted another four balls, dragging on to an RP Singh delivery.

Cook and Bell had put together a partnership of 178, putting England in the fine position of 221-2 with over 8 overs left, giving Kevin Pietersen the perfect platform when he came in. He scored 33 off 25 balls as he and Bell put on 67 to set the Indians 289 to win.

Bell had brought up his first ODI hundred at a run a ball, flicking Ajit Agarkar away to bring up the century, and he continued to accelerate, finishing unbeaten on 126 off 117 deliveries.

India’s response began shambolically. Sourav Ganguly had only scored 2 when he saw Tendulkar push a delivery wide of Monty Panesar at mid off, and perhaps presuming too much from Panesar’s reputation as a fielder, ran one and immediately turned for two, only to see Panesar gather cleanly, rise, and throw straight into Prior’s gloves, who duly ran Ganguly out.

Then England’s seamers began to turn the screw, Bowling genuinely fast and menacingly accurately, Stuart Broad and James Anderson produced probably the best performances of their ODI careers. Although Broad went unrewarded, the pressure he applied at one end deserves as much credit for India’s collapse as the other seamers. Anderson at the other end made hay. Gambhir(3) drove at a full length ball from the Lancastrian and edged to Prior to give Anderson his 100th ODI wicket. Tendulkar flicked a ball to Ravi Bopara at midwicket to be dismissed for 17. Yuvraj Singh failed to trouble the scorers before becoming Anderson’s third victim, caught brilliantly by Cook diving to his right in gully. India were in trouble at 34-4.

Broad and Anderson were replaced by the fire of a fit Flintoff and the medium paced nagging of Mascarenhas as Dravid and Dhoni let the game slip away from them. Neither batsmen could get either bowler away and the required run rate shot up. Dhoni in particular was worked over by Flintoff, back up at full pace. The Indian keeper gloved a Flintoff short ball to Prior behind the stumps, to only be saved by it being a no ball. This was more like a sentence to 43 more balls of torture before Flintoff repeated the delivery but kept his foot behind the line this time, and Dhoni had to go for 19.

Mascarenhas bowled his 10 overs off the trot, conceding only 28 runs. His reward was the wicket of Dravid(46), caught by Prior down the leg side to secure the game.

That was not, however, the end of the game. As bad as it was already for the Indians, there was room for more embarrasment. Two run outs capped an innings that will be remembered as one of the most abysmal performances of running between the wickets by any team. Agarkar was run out pushing the ball to Collingwood at cover and looking two eagerly for a single that was never there. Shortly after, Chawla turned the ball into the legside straight to a fielder, which didn’t stop Dinesh Karthik sprinting the length of the pitch int Chawla’s crease to leave both batsmen at one end and Chawla ran out.

With the game in the bag, Collingwood was content to rest Broad and Flintoff, bowling himself before bringing Anderson back to share the last two wickets with Panesar.

England will go into the second game of the series at Bristol high on confidence. India will go hoping to atleast not look like a village team this time.

England 288-2
Ian Bell 126*, Alistair Cook 102
Zaheer Khan 1-49, RP Singh 1-49

India 184 all out
Rahul Dravid 46, Dinesh Karthik 44*
James Anderson 4-23, Andrew Flintoff 1-12

England win by 104 runs
England lead the 7-game series 1-0

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