Even with the addition of Middlesex’s Steven Finn to the attack, the hosts had no answers for the India batting line-up while trying to defend such a small target. The tourists went about their chase carefully, and although they lost the occasional wicket to keep England interested, Alastair Cook’s men couldn’t keep the Indians at bay. It will be good news for England that Finn is back amongst the international fray but he is still some way short of his pacy best. If he continues to bowl with rhythm and gets some overs under his belt, Finn will surely be a fixture in this England team for the foreseeable future.
For the second match in a row, Alex Hales and Cook both started well with the aim of building a platform for the middle-order to capitalise on later in the innings. The problem, though, was both openers fell within quick succession of each other to throw away what looked like a promising start, as England slipped from 90 without loss to 120-4. It is a positive that Hales looks more than comfortable at the top of the order in 50-over cricket but the problem would be whether Cook is the right foil for the Nottinghamshire batsman. In county cricket, Hales sits back as Michael Lumb goes out of the traps quickly before dragging his strike rate back to well over 100. Cook plays very much in the same mould but hasn’t got the attacking ability to play catch up and as a result gets bogged down. This in turn puts pressure on Hales, who is forced to play shots that are high risk, such as the two sweeps that have seen him perish in Cardiff and Trent Bridge.
It is becoming a far too familiar problem for England, whether setting a total or chasing a target, they cannot find the boundary enough in the middle overs, thus putting undue pressure on themselves and losing wickets with regularity. The culmination of the farcical approach to the middle overs was when Ian Bell was run out on 28, taking with him all the momentum England had. The inability to score when the field is spread has haunted the hosts and they look instead to rely to heavily on one of the openers batting through. Rather unbelievably, England failed to register a boundary between the 18th and 44th overs which in one-day cricket is rather poor. To add insult to injury, the hosts’s tail showed the batsmen how to score runs on this track with James Tredwell making a quick-fire 30 from 18 balls to take England away from total embarrassment. Questions still remain however over the host’s tactical approach as no fewer than six wickets fell to spin.
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