One Day International
I promised yesterday to post a quick account of the Fifth (and final) One Day International between England and India at the SWALEC stadium in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, so here goes…
As I feared, the weather in Cardiff yesterday wasn’t brilliant and, although it was quite warm during the morning, it was overcast and there were stacks of very dark clouds around by lunchtime. We got to the ground in time for the scheduled start, which was 2pm, but just as play was about to get under way the heavens opened and down came the rain.
This was the scene about five to two, just as the covers were being taken off; they dark clouds to the left were moving from left to right and covered the ground a few minutes later whereupon it stotted down.
Fortunately, although it came down in stair-rods for a while, the rain didn’t last long so play actually got under way about 2.40 and the authorities decided that the game would remain 50 overs a side (with a late finish).
England won the toss and decided to field. Openers Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane got the Indian innings off to a good start with a partnership of 52 runs, then Rahane was removed by Jade Dernbach when the batsman, after scoring just 26 runs off 47 deliveries, was caught by Steven Finn at third man, right down in front of us. In the 16th over, Patel also fell, for 9 runs off 39 deliveries, when he was caught by Tim Bresnan at mid-on off the bowling of spinner Graeme Swann. Rahul Dravid (playing his last ODI) and Virat Kohli then played a wonderful partnership which was not broken until the last delivery of the 42nd over. England finally managed to grab the wicket of Dravid who left the field to a standing ovation after scoring 69 runs. The Dravid/ Kohli partnership had brought 170 runs; by the time Dravid’s wicket fell, India were on 227-3. Meanwhile, Kholi had managed to score his sixth one-day hundred but he was out for 107 in the 44th over when he was given out hit-wicket while trying to play a delivery by Swann; his back foot had apparently slipped and struck the stumps, dislodging a bail. Unlucky.
The Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then smashed 50 runs off 26 deliveries to help his side post a score of 304-6, leaving England a daunting target of 305 runs to win. India certainly batted well, but were helped a bit by poor bowling by some of the England players. Indeed the only bowler I thought was really impressive was Finn, who was consistetly over 90 mph in his opening spell and was clearly troubling the Indian batsmen. Jade Dernbach, by contrast, committed the unpardonable sin of bowling wides in the last over. Incidentally, I managed to catch the umpire signalling an England wide, but I can’t remember who was bowling at the time:
Just after they players went off for a (shortened) interval, the rain came back again and this time it was decided that there wouldn’t be time for another full 50 overs. The Duckworth–Lewis (D/L) method was wheeled out, with the initial outcome that England would have to score 270 to win off 40 overs. That seemed very tough – the ten overs lost only reducing England’s target by 35. Another rain delay then revised the target further to 241 runs from 34 overs, a very stiff challenge indeed.
The many Indian supporters in the ground were buoyed by their team’s strong batting performance and seemed confidedent of a first victory against England this tour. I thought India would win at this point too, as a matter of fact. Anyway, the rain finally cleared and as the sun came out a rather nice rainbow appeared over Sophia Gardens as the floodlights were switched on for the “night” part of this “day-night” game.
England came out to bat and, rightly, sought to take the attack to India right from the ouset. Openers Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter scored quickly against some frankly rather poor Indian bowling.
England suffered their first loss in the fifth over with the score on 27 when Kieswetter was given leg-before wicket off the bowling of Vinay Kumar. Cook was then joined by Jonathan Trott, often a rather slow scorer, but both batsmen scored quite freely building a partnership of 79 runs until Cook was dismissed in the 18th, bowled by Kohli. The England total was 106 at this point, with three wickets down but plenty of batting still to comeyet only 16 overs to score the remaining 135 needed to win.
Ian Bell departed after scoring 26 runs and then Trott fell to a catch, off an uncharacteristically poor shot, for 63 runs off 60 deliveries. With four wickets now down, India (and their fans) must have been feeling pretty confident that they could stop England’s run chase. The result was firmly in the balance.
Cue the 21-year-old debutant Jonathan Bairstow who looked a little nervous for his first two or three deliveries, but then proceeded to smash the Indian bowling all round the park (and out of it). I think at least two of his big straight hits may well have landed in the River Taff after clearing the stands at the Riverside end quite comfortably. The flurry of boundaries boosted England’s scoring rate so quickly that in no time the target started to look not just possible but comfortable. In the end Bairstow remained unbeaten on 41 runs while his partner Ravi Bopara was not out 37 as England won by 6 wickets with more than an over to spare.
It was an impressive performance by the England batsman and a crushing disappointment for India, who now return home without winning a single match in England this season.
Despite the showery weather it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. The ground was packed, the sizeable Indian contingent contributed a lot to the atmosphere, and the usual groups of daft blokes in bizarre fancy dress also added a measure of eccentricity to the event. It did look at one point that there might be an ugly scene between two groups of fans in our stand, but thankfully it didn’t turn out to be very serious. We don’t want any of that sort of thing at cricket matches, thank you very much.
So that’s that. A fine end to the summer of international cricket, though perhaps not for the Indian players and supporters….Follow @telescoper