The match between India and England was touted to be a dead rubber technically because both of them had qualified for the next around. But Dhoni wanted to give opportunities for the players who sat out the first match. So Harbhajan, Piyush and Dinda got a chance to play in the game. England, on the other hand, went with their full strength team. The match was played in the R.Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The weather was pleasant and there was a forecast for mild showers. The pitch was a bit slow, though it was good enough for 40 overs. England won the toss and chose to bowl.
The match got off to a surprise start when Irfan Pathan walked in along with Gautam Gambhir. Dhoni surprised one and all by this move. The Indian innings started off smoothly with India on 6-0 at the end of first over. Things were going good till the third over when Irfan got bowled off a beautiful in-swinging delivery from Finn. The man in form Kohli walked in next and he and Gambhir together put up a good partnership for 57 runs out of which Kohli scored 40. He got out, trying to hit Swann out of the ground, off a good catch by Bairstow. Kohli was replaced by Rohit and began well by hitting a boundary off Stuart Broad. Gambhir didn’t last long. He got out to a brilliant slower delivery from Finn which caught the edge of his bat and carried to the keeper. Rohit then took the attack to the opposition by hitting some fine shots all over the ground and brought up his 50. Dhoni played second fiddle to Sharma going at run a ball. He holed out in the last over to midwicket where Hales and Buttler combined to pull off a brilliant catch. The Indian innings ended on 170/4 with Rohit remaining not out on 55 off 33 balls.
England had a good batting line up full of youngsters who could win any match on their day. Alex Hales and Craig Kieswetter walked in to open the innings. Irfan bowled the first over and he immediately tasted success when he clean bowled Hales on the last ball of his first over. Luke Wright walked in next and he went for his shots straight away when he hit Irfan for a six over covers in the 3rd over. But Irfan struck again the very next ball getting Wright on the pads for 6.
Harbhajan was brought into the attack and he struck immediately getting danger man Morgan bowled. From then on it was massacre for England. Wickets fell at regular intervals and the scoring rate dropped down. No one was able to play spin properly and the Indians were clearly dominating the game. England were bowled out for a paltry 80. Harbhajan and Piyush shared six wickets between themselves with Bhajji being the wrecker-in-chief picking up 4-12. He got the man of the match award for his brilliant performance.
It was a scintillating victory for team India who clearly dominated the game from the word go. The batters came good and were backed up by some good bowling performances. But one should not read too much into this victory because it wasn’t a crunch game and Indian bowling still needs to find its feet if it has to win the tournament.