England deliver one of the worst ODI performances since Australia’s last week.
It would not be hyperbole to say this was a rubbish day for England. From the opening overs when Ian Bell dot-balled his way to 1* from 17 balls, through a middle order collapse (three wickets for one run) to a fairly bad day for the bowlers, India were on top all day. The problems all stemmed from the batting at the start – albeit Kevin Pietersen was given out caught behind off his pocket – with Bell and Alastair Cook not looking comfortable at the start. Eoin Morgan batted nervously and in a manner more like his horrible tour of the UAE than the cool performances in the pre-Christmas T20s. This was followed by both Samit Patel and Craig Kieswetter expecting Ravi Jadeja to spin the ball miles and getting dismissed for a combined 0(7). Indeed, the batting conditions should have been bearable for England – the conditions weren’t typically subcontinental, the ball carried through nicely and only one delivery noticeably turned (R Ashwin’s ball to bowl Tim Bresnan).
The total of 155 was always going to be a losing one, but Jade Dernbach again did himself no favours by conceding nine runs per over. Although Steady James Treddy picked up another two wickets, Virat Kohli was in control as he steered India to a simple victory with hours to spare. The winning runs were scored by MS Dhoni on his home turf – and this was rather fitting as it was the best team performance we’ve seen under his captaincy for a long time.
Virat Kohli was deservedly man of the match for his splendid knock – which looked as easy as a net against some schoolgirls. However it was the consistent bowling that really won them this game; Shami Ahmed and B Kumar started nicely and allowed neither Bell or Cook to settle into their comfort zones, but the real spell of the day was bowled by Jadeja. His bowling is far from exceptional, but limited overs cricket has been around a long time now and a significant number of unexceptional bowlers have taken crucial wickets and returned impressive figures. Firstly Kieswetter’s forward lunge was played with a crooked bat and wide gate, then a few balls later Patel led with his pad and hung his bat down the wrong line. It was embarrassing, accentuated because they followed Morgan’s dreadful reverse sweep off Ashwin, which he spooned to backward point.
The series may have started well for England, but since Dhoni came in to bat at Kochi, India have had the initiative. Today was surely Dernbach’s last ODI and there would be a case for giving Jos Buttler a match in the place of Kieswetter. But India, apart from the hapless Ajinkya Rahane and the inconsistent Ishant Sharma, look to be in good form and capable of going to Mohali and winning convincingly again.