After the opening ceremony, the start of play in the first match of the four-match series was only delayed by 30 minutes due to the sterling efforts of the groundsmen following heavy rain at the homely ground of Worcester Norton.
The umpires for this series have all experienced many years of red-ball cricket but, crucially, have served on the new panel that has overseen domestic blind cricket this season and so have brought a high level of expertise into the international game.
Due to the delayed start the match was reduced from 40 to 37 overs per side. India romped to an easy victory having inserted England and then bowled them out for 82 in 16.3 overs as the Indian opening bowlers, Reddy and Naik, extracted steep bounce from the pitch. Combined with movement through the air and off the pitch and the inability of the English batsmen to regularly pierce the infield, wickets fell regularly.
The frustration of the opening pair of Dan Field and Matt Dean, who had only reached 25 in the 4th over before Dean was bowled by Naik, was apparent although this turned out to be the biggest partnership of the innings.
The best innings was that of Luke Sugg who fought hard to combat the bounce and protect his stumps and had just plundered two boundaries when he was last out brilliantly caught by Reddy diving forward at mid wicket for a top-scoring 24.
Sharp Indian fielding resulted in three run outs including that of the prolific Nathan Foy.
When India batted, opener Ajaya Reddy was quickly into his stride hitting crisply off the front foot. When Sugg sent the keeper Dan Field back and tried a fast bouncing delivery Reddy hit it back over the bowler’s head for six. With the fall of Bhoya, caught by Matt Dean half way back at mid wicket, the entrance of Ashish Negi hastened the end as he smacked five boundaries in an unbeaten 25 off 14 deliveries.
Despite England being outplayed they kept up the intensity in the field and Reddy was eventually run out by a brilliant piece of fielding by Andy Powers who hit the stumps direct when it looked as if a leisurely run would be completed successfully.
Man-of-the –match was the 20-year-old Reddy on his international debut with 3 wickets to add to his batting and fielding heroics. He was closely challenged by Asish Negi who also produced two run-out and Luke Sugg who is likely to have an influence on this series.
England have much to ponder as they look to come back strongly in the second match tomorrow at the ground of Malvern Cricket Club.
The teams were grateful for the hospitality of the members of Worcester Norton CC and in particular the effort of their groundstaff for enabling a match that ended in beautiful sunshine to get underway so promptly.