22nd May: Sunrisers v Rajasthan Royals, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
Delhi 295-4 (Dhawan 110, Kumar 78no) beat
England XI 294-5 (Bell 108) by 6 wickets
Tour Match, Delhi
Fortunately for England, defeat in a warm-up match does not necessarily spell disaster for the series ahead. However, the manner in which they were beaten today by a Delhi side that failed to make the quarter-finals of the ongoing Ranji Trophy, coupled with the mauling at the hands of India A two days ago, will worry them.
Ian Bell again showed that he is in fine touch, this time making 108 in a pretty strong England batting display, but it is the form of their bowlers which will worry them most. The bowling is the area which has been hit hardest by England’s rotation policy for this series, with James Anderson, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad all missing, only one of them because of injury. Their replacements didn’t exactly do themselves justice today.
Chris Woakes was again expensive - his every performance with the white ball further strengthening the view, widely held on the county circuit, that he is better suited to red-ball cricket - while Stuart Meaker was also disappointing. Add in the fact that attack leader Steven Finn again went wicketless and the end result is a Delhi side which comfortably chased down England’s total of 294 for five with nine balls to spare.
The match had started brightly for England, with Alastair Cook returning to lead the side after sitting out the game against India A. He was in splendid form and did the bulk of the scoring in an opening stand of 70 with an occasionally uncertain-looking Ian Bell. His dismissal to Sumit Narwal sparked a slight mid-innings wobble, with Joe Root caught on the sweep and Samit Patel bowled by Varun Sood.
Fortunately, Bell was on hand to steady things and added a further 113 with Eoin Morgan in good time for fourth-wicket. He brought up his century before finally being dismissed in the 44th over, but, with scores of 91 and 108, must surely have done enough to seal his place as Cook’s opening partner come the first ODI on Friday.
Morgan also departed before the end for 52 off 55 balls, with Craig Kieswetter adding some late impetus with an unbeaten 41 off only 27 balls.
With most of their key batsmen having enjoyed time in the middle and a good total on the board, the England dressing room must have been a pretty happy place during the lunch break.
However, Delhi boasted a strong top-order with former Indian international Shikhar Dhawan and current India Under-19 captain Unmukt Chand forming the opening pair. They began well and put on 97 for the first wicket inside 18 overs before James Tredwell - who ended as the pick of England’s bowlers - removed Chand for 37. When Tredwell also dispensed with the new batsmen Jagrit Anand just four overs later England must have fancied their chances.
However, 21 year-old Milind Kumar, who is hardly a regular in the Delhi line-up, joined Dhawan and the two advanced the total towards 200. Dhawan brought up his hundred before being trapped in front by Joe Root, but Kumar coped admirably with the loss of his captain, as well as the new batsman for just two and an asking rate of above six an over, and saw his side home.
He ended on 78 off 85 balls, with Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder Rajat Bhatia having taken some of the pressure off of him, with an undefeated 45 off only 33 balls. England’s bowlers had no answer to either man, leaving new coach Ashley Giles still waiting for his first win.
© Cricket World 2013
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