India’s bowling faltered at the death which became crucial in the outcome of the first ODI against England here at Khanderi Stadium on Friday. The home team conceded as many as 64 runs in the last five overs, including 38 in the last two, as they suffered a nine-run defeat in a high-scoring encounter.
Samit Patel and Craig Kieswetter exhibited fireworks as England raced from 261/4 in 45 overs to 325 in 50 without losing any more wickets. The two were severe on Ishant Sharma. The seamer, who bowled two maidens in his first spell, finished with figures of 10-2-86-0.
India needed to fire on all cylinders on a belter. For a side accustomed to seeing Virender Sehwag blaze away at the top, the Gautam Gambhir-Ajinkya Rahane pair may have seemed less spicy. Taking on the England seamers, the two were effective nevertheless.
As often seen, Rahane missed an opportunity to make a start count. He mistimed a lofted shot off James Tredwell and holed out to long off for 47. With Gambhir departing soon after completing his 34th half century, India lost momentum. His Delhi mate Virat Kohli didn’t last too long either as India started to falter.
Yuvraj Singh (61) and Suresh Raina (50) gave India a glimmer of hope. But the game again saw some twist like telly serials as Tredwell dismissed the two.
MS Dhoni gave Alastair Cook a scare with four majestic sixes. India’s celebration was short-lived, however. Jade Dernbach dismissed the Indian captain, muting the Khanderi Stadium. A flutter of excitement passed when India’s tail got going too. This day, though, England were clearly a better side as they restricted India to 316/9.
Earlier, Cook and Ian Bell shared a record first-wicket stand against India, laying the foundation of a big score. During their 158-run stand, they surpassed Chris Tavare-Barry Woods record partnership of 133 which was established at Leeds in 1982.
They changed gears after a watchful start. Bell lofted local hero and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja over extra-cover. He registered his 24th ODI fifty with a reverse sweep against Jadeja that sped to the fence. Cook, who was harsh on R Ashwin, soon notched up his half century.
India finally got the breakthrough when an agile Rahane’s direct hit found Bell a few inches short of the crease. Kevin Pietersen (44) and Eoin Morgan (41) continued the good work, stitching 80 for the third wicket in just 10 overs, including 44 runs in batting powerplay before Patel and Kieswetter massacred the Indian bowling. Fact that Dhoni used as many as seven bowlers summed up India’s day.