An unbeaten 113 from Ian Bell helped England chase down the target of 226 set by India in the final match of the ODI series. Tim Bresnan overcame his struggles with an elbow injury to take 4-45 after India had been put in to bat, and despite continued good form from Suresh Raina (83), England looked to have restricted their opponents to a very achievable total. The loss of captain Alastair Cook for 22 did not affect Bell, and when Kevin Pietersen went for just six, he was joined at the crease by Joe Root. Another composed performance from the Yorkshireman allowed Bell to go about his business at the other end, and when Root fell for 31, it was Eoin Morgan who reached 40 not out to help Bell guide England home with seven wickets to spare. Victory in what was a dead rubber means that the tourists can leave with some positives, having bookended the five matches with encouraging performances.
A 3-2 series win can be seen as ‘job done’ for India – they have bounced back from a disappointing Test series before Christmas, and while comparisons may be drawn with the last series in India between these two sides, where the hosts completed a 5-0 whitewash, the series victory was the most important thing on this occasion. Captain MS Dhoni has relieved a little of the pressure that was building on him, and Raina’s man-of-the-series performance will have given much encouragement for the future. As the home of the defending 50-over world champions, a series in India still represents one of the most daunting challenges for a touring side, but one would expect them to be equally dangerous during the Champions Trophy in England in June.
Joe Root averaged 54 over the course of the series, and on several occasions anchored an innings that was falling apart around him. The question now, with rested players about to come back into the side, is whether there is room in a ODI side for both Root and Jonathan Trott. Ian Bell looked good when he got in, and needs to replicate this on a more regular basis. In the bowling department, James Tredwell again showed why he has become the automatic choice when Graeme Swann is not available, finishing the series as the leading wicket taker with 11. With Monty Panesar firmly back in the international fold and Danny Briggs earmarked as a promising talent, there is real strength in depth in the spin bowling department. As for the quick bowlers, the stand-out players were those notable by their absence; James Anderson and Stuart Broad are likely to make for a far more potent bowling attack when they return to the side.
This was Ashley Giles’ first tour as coach of the limited-overs squad, and he felt that despite losing the series, it was “not a disaster”. It will be interesting to see if he is able to make his mark on the forthcoming tour of New Zealand, having already made changes during this series. The wicket-keeping position is still undecided, and he has not been able to choose from a full-strength squad with several key players rested. Three Twenty20 internationals are followed by three ODIs in New Zealand, and with each passing series before the Champions Trophy the need to decide on a settled line up becomes more pressing. The age-old problem for England’s limited overs sides has been consistency, and Giles will be looking to resurrect the form shown when they triumphed in the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.
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