Thursday, November 27, 2008

England Blanked

Its a pity, I had to do the write-up for the series a week before I would've intended to...

It was the Kevin Pietersen's England team now touring India, during the months of November and December for 7 match ODI series followed by 2 match test series.

England travelling across to subcontinent, riding on their sweeping victory over South Africa in the ODI series, had their tails up, and were confident of beating India in the ODI series, which they failed to do in the last few occasions. India, fresh from the test series victory over Australia, were upbeat about the series, and some fresh legs improved the environment in the Indian dressing room.

England, won a tour game, and lost one, to every one's surprise, before heading to Rajkot for the first ODI. KP won the toss and decided to field first. The more you remind him of the previous sentence, the more he'll sink his head into his arms. Right from the word GO, the openers, Gambhir and Sehwag set themselves into a blitz. Departure of either or both made no difference. In came Yuvraj, who looked in great touch (touch???). He had back-ache, so what? He started the "stand and deliver" attack, reaching his century in less than 70 balls, and sending the ball scattering around the small park at will. Ably assisted by the captain Dhoni, and Raina at the other end, Yuvraj paced his innings well to post a mammoth total. The English reply barring fighting innings by captain, Pietersen and all-rounder Bopara, was toothless. India beat England by 158 runs and go 1-0 up.

Now, Indore. India chose to bat first, and both teams went in with the same line up. Broad ran through the top order, picking up 3 wickets in his merciless first spell. Then on, Gambhir and Yuvraj steadied the ship, and mustered the pacing of runs. Yuvraj notched another century, and made sure he got decent recognition for filling up Ganguly's spot in the test team. Gambhir was fluent, but, missed out on anther opportunity to put up a century. With late cameo from Yusuf Pathan, who made his best score in ODIs by far, an excellent score was put up. Chasing 292 was never going to be easy. And, the England top order batsmen found to tough to play the Indian bowlers, except R.P. Singh, who seemed to be searching for his rythm. Shah's pleasant innings and quick runs from Flintoff and Broad couldn't help England cover the distance, and England fell short by 54 runs. Yuvraj was economical while picking up the crucial wickets too, 4 in all, and romped home the man-of-the-match award. 2-0 to India.

The third one, to be played at Kanpur, started late, due to unplayable ground conditions early in the day. Ishant Sharma replaced RP Singh, Swann came in for Harmison. England, batting first, had useful contributions from Bopara, who was promoted to the opening slot, Bell and Shah. But, the total of 240 (49 overs-a-side) was not very safe, unless bowlers stuck to precise line and lenght. India started the chase slowly, and lost two early wickets. But, Sehwag played watchfully. With the middle order coming good, India had made a score, quite clear of the D/L mark, when the light faded away, never to brighten again that day. Flintoff's excellent spell to consume both openers and Yuvraj, went in vain. India went 3-0 up.

Cloud cover, rumours in media, KP's search for a victory with series at stake and many more issues on and off the field added the Indian spice to the 4th encounter at the wet Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium. Sachin's inclusion was another news, which meant Gambhir had to play at number 3. India started, Sehwag started with a shot that took no longer that a coule of seconds to reach cover boundary. In the opening partnership of almost 40, there was only one single, and one double. The two just didn't communicate well to rotate the strike, or so it looked like. The match was shortened to 44 overs a side, and then, to 22 overs a side. With massive hitting from the blade of all who took gaurd at the crease, India raised 166, and set England 198 for victory, by D/L. The English chase started off with hiccups. Being 3 down for 52 and scoring at less than run-a-ball will not help England's cause of staying alive in the series. Enter Flintoff. Him and Owais started their counter-attack. It was a brutal massacre. The 8 overs of spin cost India 100 runs. But, pace spearhead Zaheer Khan made sure, India was home safe and sound, when he squeezed the run leak with impeccable line. India won the match by a healthy margin, and took an unassailable 4-0 lead.

KP had failed to find the best 11 for the subcontnient pitches in time. Dhoni decided to improve the bench strength.

The fifth match at Cuttack. Cook came in for Bell, Harmison replaced Anderson, who failed to make an impact in the series thus far. Irfan Pathan and Rohit Sharma filled in for Munaf and Gambhir. Dhoni chose to field, citing dew as he prime reason for him to do so. KP promoted himself up the order, and rightly so. He brought up his century in good time. It was KP's (and England's) first century in 14 matches. KP last brought up his century against the Kiwis, back home in summer (refer "New Zealand back on the cricket map"). And England posted a good total of 270 on the board. India started off well with a 50 from Sachin and a blazing 91 from Sehwag. A flurry of wickets brought panic to the Indian dressing room, but, Dhoni and Raina played out the middle overs well and India won the match comfortably. And India made it 5-0.

Elsewhere, Mumbai was enveloped by terror attacks. The city, once again came under darkness. In the wake of these events, the English team has decided to call off the tour and return home. The remaining two ODIs and both tests stand cancelled, if not, postponed to a later date, not yet decided, but take my word, not anytime soon.

The Champions League T20 also has been 'postponed' as other teams expressed fear in letting the players tour the nation, when Mumbai is reeling under extreme pressure (Mumbai is one of the venues for the T20 event).

Further developments will be posted as soon as possible.
Pause in the cricket bandwagon in India. Hope it gets back to normalcy soon.

1 comment:

  1. The city of Mumbai has once again been terrorized and shaken. But the Test series in India can help in speeding up the restoration of peace.