The news was in the air that England might go into the match today without Ian Bell. Young Bairstow had done pretty well in the practice games, but leaving out Ian Bell was very surprising indeed. Bell has been a talisman for the England ODI team in the recent past and has the reputation of being a very effective batsman against spin. India went in with three seamers, one spinner and an all-rounder in Jadeja. Other than that, the two teams that took the field were pretty much expected.
M.S. Dhoni won the toss at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium in Hyderabad and decided to make first use of the wicket. It was quite evident from the way the Indian openers started that the wicket isn’t the typical subcontinent wicket where batsmen can dominate from the word go. It was a bit uneven and slow. The new rules meant that two new balls would be used from either end. The optional powerplays would have to be taken between the 15 and 40 over period. The powerplay rule was to change the monotony that tends to set in between the aforementioned period in the innings. But England took their bowling powerpaly after the sixteenth over and India had no option but to take the batting powerplay after 35. It was this powerplay the helped the Indian batting gain momentum. This momentum was carried into the final ten overs. India amassed 160 runs in the final 16 overs. Captain Dhoni’s 87 from 70 balls and Raina’s brisk 61 meant that India finished their innings with 300 on the board. Apart from Swann, who was the pick of the English bowlers no one able to check the onslaught. Dermot Reeves on commentary was flabbergasted that the English seamers weren’t using the uneven bounce of the pitch and instead kept on bowling too full.
The onus was on the Indian bowlers to defend quite a big target considering the nature of the wicket. Praveen Kumar and Vinay Kumar were steady to begin with. The flamboyant Kieswetter was caught behind by Dhoni as he edged an outswinger from PK. The Indian captain too, took the bowling powerplay as soon as the 15th over stipulation was done with. It was interesting that he brought Kohli to bowl his floaters between the 10 and 15 over mark. It was in the 19th over that he gave Ashwin the ball. Ashwin and Jadeja strangulated the English batsmen who seemed unsure, apart from Alastair Cook, who made a run-a-ball 60. England was in a decent position until Cook went with the 111 on the scoreboard. But as the match progressed, the writing seemed to be on the wall for the English; they crumbled from 111 for 3 to 174 all out. India registered a resounding victory over their recent tormentors by 126 runs.
The man of the match, M.S. Dhoni was as candid as ever in the post-match presentation. He admitted that he was a bit circumspect about the dew in the evening and hence went in with only one genuine spinner. He also said that he wouldn’t read too much into the margin of defeat because there was no dew on the field; the conditions were bowler friendly. He was visibly excited for Umesh Yadav who clocked 145 km/hr plus on the speed gun and was in the 140’s regularly. The most impressive aspect was the Indian fielding with youngsters diving around in the field, cutting singles and spurring each other on.
It would not be surprising if M.S. plays an extra spinner in the 2nd ODI in Delhi, at the Feroz Shah Kotla. That pitch is much slower and would assist spinner a lot. Cook, on the other hand, would like to play Ian Bell, who is a very good batsmen against spin. It would be interesting to see how the English batsmen counter spin and how their seamers adjust their lengths in not-so-helpful conditions. Indian fans would like to see Rahane fulfill the promise he showed in England and Gambhir get back amongst the runs.
It was the first ODI and reading too much into the Indian win would be naive. Apart from the result of the series, it would be interesting to see how the captains use the powerplays? What effect would the two new balls used from each end have on the spinners and reverse swing?
India 300/7 England 174 all out (36.1 overs)