India embarrassed England in a dominating 126 run victory in the first of a five match series at Hyderabad. India were without opening batsmen, Sehwag and Tendulkar whilst England opted to include Bopara over Ian Bell to give the captain an extra bowling option.
India won the toss and elected to bat first on a dry and cracked pitch. However, an inexperienced opening partnership of Rahane and Patel struggled early on. Rahane was dropped on t0 off Finn’s bowling by Trott. However, England only had to wait a couple more overs for the breakthrough, as Patel was run out by an outstretched fingertips of Finn, as Rahane drove down the ground.
Swann once again showed his class by taking a wicket in the first over of his spell. Rahane was the victim, stumped while coming down the pitch attempting to loft the ball over mid-off. Swann was England’s most accomplished bowler, as is often the case. He managed to restrict the Indian batsmen to a mere three and a half runs an over off his bowling. This build up of pressure paid off at the other end when Gambhir was fooled by a Dernbach slower ball which caught him lbw for 32. Kohli soon followed for 37 caught by Pieterson at long-off going for a maximum.
At this stage India were in trouble at 123-4, but Dhoni managed to steady the ship with Raina, as both batsmen displayed their excellent stroke-play. They particularly targeted Bopara who went for 21 off only 3 overs.
Raina quickly accelerated to his half-century off of only 52 balls. However, he didn’t last much longer, as he gave his wicket away by being overly aggressive. He was caught a handful of balls later slicing the ball high in the air to Bairstow at point.
Dhoni on the other hand did not throw his wicket away. Instead he drove the England bowlers through the off side and played his signature “helicopter” shot without taking any undue risks. He guided India through to the end of the innings and made an imperious 87 not out. He had support from the big hitting Jadeja who scored a quick 27 with a couple of enormous straight sixes, but England’s bowlers interrupted India’s rhythm by getting two sharp run outs in the final five overs. India ended with 300-7, which was probably 50 runs more than England were hoping to chase.
England’s innings started poorly, as Kieswetter was caught behind wafting at a ball outside off stump. Pieterson came in at his new position of number three and started shakily. He misjudged a couple of short balls and edging through the empty slip cordon. Cook, however was a different proposition, as he dispatched anything on his legs through mid wicket for four and continued to show why he is a world class batsman.
Unfortunately for England, Pieterson was run-out by an excellent piece of fielding by Ashwin at mid-on just as he started to look comfortable. England looked comfortable for a short period, as Trott and Cook guided England past 100. This changed dramatically when Dhoni brought the spinners on to bowl.
Cook was first victim for the spinners, as he was caught for 60 trying to clear the ropes at mid-wicket. This triggered a middle order collapse, as Trott, who scored very slowly at a strike rate of 60, was bowled trying to play a slog sweep. Bopara and Bairstow soon followed both caught and bowled by Ashwin and Jadeja respectively. Bresnan didnt last much longer as he was stumped off of Ashwin. In this period England’s whole middle-order collapsed for the gain of only 24 runs.
This left Patel and Swann to pick up the pieces, but neither were convincing. They were both bowled by similar balls, which kept low off of the quick bowler Yadav. Finn managed to add a quick 18, including the only six of the England innings, but he ran out of partners, as Dernbach was bowled by Ashwin for 2.
England will have to be a much stronger proposition on Monday in Delhi. Ian Bell is likely to be re-called, which will only improve the batting order. I personally felt his omission to the starting XI was a mistake, as he provides an anchor to England’s middle-order. Bopara will probably make way, as he performed poorly with the bat and ball. Overall, this was a poor performance by England who need to perform better if they are to get anything out of this series.