Friday, October 14, 2011


In a matter of minutes, what was promising to be a contest ended in humiliation for England, helping India end a winless streak of 11 matches in 2011, and four games in Uppal.
On a slow, low wicket at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, skipper MS Dhoni (87) and Suresh Raina (61) powered India to 300-8 with some intense hitting in the last 15 overs in which they made 150 runs.
England were on course at 111-2 before Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja blew a hole through their middle order that was clueless against the spinners' subtle variations.
The 126-run margin is India's second-biggest over England in ODIs, and didn't look likely given how evenly the game was poised during India's innings.
There were concerns about Dhoni's form through for long, but they can be buried for now. The Indian skipper posted his fourth ODI fifty on the trot, with scores of 69, 78 and 50 earlier in England.
With Graeme Swann hurtling through his overs, India's scoring had come to a crawl. But when the mandatory batting Powerplay was claimed in the 36th over, India's run-rate burst through the roof.
Suresh Raina overcame a scratchy start, completing a swift fifty by hitting Tim Bresnan over the sightscreen for a gorgeous six. He added 70 with Dhoni in 10 overs, and India's revival was underway.
Earlier in the innings, Ajinkya Rahane made a dull 15 (41b) after being dropped on zero. Parthiv Patel was run-out for 9. Gautam Gambhir batted positively for 32 but fell LBW to a loopy full-toss from Jade Dernbach. It left India tentative at 79-3.
Virat Kohli (37) and Raina sought relief by trying to punish Samit Patel. But Kohli was caught at long-off trying one time too many to push the scoring against the left-arm spinner. A score of 250 would have been respectable from hereon, but Dhoni and Raina exceeded all expectations.
That partnership provided India the impetus, but Raina fell on 61, trying to slog Steven Finn. Whatever hopes this breakthrough gave England were quickly quelled by Jadeja's hectic 27, and a 65-run stand with Dhoni in just seven overs, which brought India to the doorstep of 300.
Dhoni finished brilliantly, employing his helicopter whips and chips over cover. After a good start, England's seamers ended in waywardly.
With England skipper Alastair Cook moving to a smoothly paced 60, the chase was nicely set-up. India's pace attack with Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav was inexperienced. But their swift collapse to spin was classic. Starting with Jonathan Trott, successive batsmen failed to get forward and low to counter the turn and dip.
Cook holed out to deep midwicket off Jadeja. Trott missed the line trying to slog-sweep a straight ball in Jadeja's next. England struggled to read Ashwin's carrom ball and straighter ball.
Ashwin also accounted for the wicket of Kevin Pietersen, with a direct hit from mid-on. Pietersen was troubled plenty by Vinay Kumar, who caught on to his habit of walking down the wicket to pacers. Vinay bounced him a couple of times, once striking him on the arm and once giving him a painful blow on the fingers.
Dhoni had investigated the playing conditions here yesterday and found out there was plenty of dew. Hence he went with three pacers today.
Yadav wasn't always accurate, but ended up with two cheap wickets after the spinners had done most of the damage.
In a jiffy, England had lost 6-37, and the game was all but over in the 32nd over -- roundabout the time India began their fightback in the first innings.
This series began as a contest between India struggling to create momentum and England going through the form of their lives. At this rate, it may end up being a contest between India's classical strength -- spin -- and England's classical inability to counter it.