India finally got their retribution for a torrid tour this summer with an emphatic 126-run win in the first ODI in Hyderabad on Friday.
India is notorious as one of the toughest places to play cricket, especially for the English. Yet the visitors fielded a side containing five players experiencing their first ODI match in the country, while Ian Bell paid the price for Jonny Barstowâ€™s headline-making start in an England shirt.
It was certainly a baptism of fire for the young side as they met an Indian side set on revenge. England will rue missed opportunities though, having been asked to bowl first.
The Indians were 123-4 in the 30th over and would have been forgiven for thinking they were back in England about to receive another drubbing.
But MS Dhoni, back in the comfort zone he knows so well, had other ideas and his 87* in tandem with Suresh Raina (61) catapulted their side’s score beyond England’s capabilities.
Only Graeme Swann bowled with any control and his return of 1-35 from 10 overs were by far the pick. Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan, both respected within the England camp for their abilities to bowl at the death, saw the ball travel to all parts and combined for 10 wides as India smashed 174 in the final 20 overs to finish on 300-7.
Alastair Cook has flourished with the bat in the one-day game since taking the captaincy. He contributed heavily again but Craig Kieswetter departed early.
A reshuffled England sent out Kevin Pietersen at number three. Pietersen began to quash the talk about his form using the hop, skip and jump technique he executed so well against Praveen Kumar in the test series. But a self imposed run-out on 19 ended any talk that this might be his day and the Surrey man was replaced by Jonathan Trott.
Trott again batted at his own tempo and his pedestrian 26 off 42 balls stagnated the innings. Cook, though was scoring freely on his way to a 63 ball 60 and there was a feeling that he would need a big score if England were to prevail.
However, the pair were dismissed in quick succession by spin twins Ravindra Jadeja (3-34), who is becoming an important player for India, and Ravi Ashwin (3-35) and England folded.
Bairstow couldn’t dazzle the crowd for a third successive match and joined Ravi Bopara in the pavilion for single figures. The tail were left with a mammoth task at 126-6 and Swann and Patel went down swinging for the fence.
Cook won’t find many positives as he reflects on the defeat. England’s athletic fielding deserted them, their bowlers unravelled in the face of an Indian onslaught and the batsmen looked as if they needed more time in the middle.
This young side will need to adapt quickly to alien conditions and frenzied crowds if they are to continue their impressive rise.
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