England Beat India In High-Scoring ODI Opener
England 325-5 (Cook 75, Bell 85) beat
India 316-9 (Yuvraj Singh 61) by 9 runs
First One-Day International, Rajkot
Report by John Pennington
England struck first in their One-Day International series against India, claiming a nine-run win in an entertaining, high-scoring game in Rajkot.
England's 325 for five, set up first by half-centuries from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, and then some lusty hitting from Samit Patel, proved to be enough when India closed on 316 for nine.
They had come closer than England would have liked to reaching their target thanks to half-centuries from Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina and then some serious hitting by Mahendra Singh Dhoni but the dismissals of both Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja in the 45th over by Jade Dernbach finally swung the game decisively in England's favour.
After a strong start to India's run chase, James Tredwell's four for 44 got England a footing in the middle overs and once Dhoni was gone, England did a good job of closing out the match. England's relatively inexperienced pace trio of Steven Finn, Dernbach and Tim Bresnan stopped India's lower order from pinching the win with some intelligent death bowling, mixing up yorkers, bouncers and length balls.
The difference between the two sides was England's late burst of runs. They managed 38 from the final two overs and 59 in the last four. India needed 34 fom the final four overs but weren't able to get them, partly because, unlike England, they had no recognised batsmen left.
Cook made 75 in 83 balls with Bell scoring 85 in 96 balls and the pair's opening partnership of 158 was the second highest partnership for England against India and set the platform for what was to follow, although England were pegged back when both were dismissed in quick succession.
It meant Kevin Pietersen (44) and Eoin Morgan (41) had to allow a little time to settle but both men were able to accelerate and add a valuable 76 runs for the third wicket and England were able to revise their target score upwards.
Once again - and it would happen when India batted too - the set batsmen fell within minutes of each other, both to Ashok Dinda, who finished with two for 53. However, this cloud had a bonus silver lining in that it gave Craig Kieswetter and Patel license to take on India with a little more than five overs remaining.
Patel led the way by hammering 44 in just 20 balls, expertly lifting the ball over the infield to hit six fours and a six while Kieswetter played his part with 24 in 20 balls including two sixes and one crisply driven straight four.
Their score meant that India would chase 326, a feat they managed back at Lord's in 2002 in a previous game between these two sides but there was to be no repeat.
India started brightly as England struggled to find any sort of consistency with the ball allowing Ajinkya Rahane (47) and Gambhir (52) to score more freely than Bell and Cook had managed with six and seven fours being struck respectively before both men chipped catches to Dernbach and Bell.
Tredwell, who had come on alongside debutant Joe Root in a bid to stop India charging away, had an immediate impact with both wickets and he would continue to swing the game England's way later on.
Before that, Virat Kohli made 15 before a wild swing at a wide delivery which he edged behind but while left-handers Yuvraj and Raina then notched up their 50th and 25th ODI half-centuries during an enterprising 60-run partnership. Yuvraj swept and paddled England's bowlers and fielders to distraction but on 61 he tried one too many and was caught by Dernbach at short fine leg off Tredwell.
Raina survived what appeared to be a clean catch by Bresnan in the deep when on 45 but he could add only five more runs before he was caught and bowled by Tredwell, who finished with career-best figures of four for 44.
For what must feel like the thousandth time in his career, everything rested on Dhoni. He took on Patel and Dernbach, booming four massive sixes to make 32 in 25 balls before finally succumbing, caught by Root and when Dernbach had Jadeja bowled three balls later, the decisive blows had been struck.
Ravichandran Ashwin (13) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (19 not out) hit valiant knocks late on, but they had been left with too much to do and while England do have a history of failing to defend scores of 325 or more, this time, it was their turn to come out on top, in the process taking their first win over India in India since April 2006.
© Cricket World 2013
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