The normal order was restored as England got back to being soundly thrashed in Indian conditions.
At the beginning of the series this was exactly the sort of performance that we expected, rather than the dramatic tension of the first game. England huffed and puffed before India’s lower order turned on the style, smashing the final ten overs for around a million runs as the tourists’ seamers dismally failed to grasp the concept of bowling yorkers. The end result was a score well above par that was never seriously threatened as wickets fell regularly. All in all, a rather depressing day all round for England as they reverted to old habits.
While none of the bowlers covered themselves in glory, two stood head and shoulders above (or below) the rest in terms of crapness: Jade Dernbach and Chris Woakes. We’ve got a lot of sympathy for Woakes, with his Derek Pringle-esque medium pace being tailor made for launching into the crowd in these conditions. Quite why he was kept on when obviously being targeted only Alastair Cook will know. Presumably that bit of paper with who was to bowl which over on said so.
Jade Dernbach, however, certainly doesn’t get any sympathy. He’s never been a convincing ODI bowler and now he seems to be regressing back towards primordial soup at a ridiculous rate, that beard being the first sign. His final spell in this game was particularly filthy and got the treatment it deserved. Quite what the selectors see in him is beyond us; the only thing we can think of is that they see the idea of Jade Dernbach (the English Malinga, mixing slower balls and toe-crushing yorkers) rather than the reality (the English Dernbach, mixing different filthy deliveries and regularly going round the park). If Stuart Meaker doesn’t get into the XI for the next game we’re going to get really angry. And you wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.
We can’t deny it: we’ve genuinely enjoyed sticking the boot into MS Dhoni over the last eighteen months or so. And he’s often deserved it. But credit it where it’s due, he’s in rather splendid nick in ODI cricket and this was an absolute masterclass in consolidation followed by acceleration and then explosion. Actually, that sounds a bit rude. Regardless, it’s very true: this was an ODI innings from the very top drawer, both in terms of big helicopter shots and the little things, such as the rotation of the strike and the way he prowled around the crease to Jade Dernbach like a tiger. One who really hates beards and tattoos.
It’s back to the drawing board for England, who played about as badly as they possibly could. We’d hope to see Jade Dernbach given one of those rests that are so popular these days, with Stuart Meaker at least deserving an opportunity. Chris Woakes may well drop out as well, with Tim Bresnan likely to return to bring some much needed experience. But perhaps the most interesting question is what to do with Craig Kieswetter, who again played a horrific innings. We’ve been quick to leap to his defence in the past but even we’re stuck here. It may be worth giving Jos Buttler the gloves, given that he can hardly do any worse.
For India this win releases a lot of the pressure that has been building up over the last few weeks. From here it’s a case of doing the basics correctly – i.e. bowling lots of spin – and the rest of the series should take care of itself. Either way, we’ll still be dragging ourselves out of bed for another 6:30am start on Saturday, just in case we get another Samit Patel masterclass in smacking the ball to the boundary so that you don’t have to do any running.