The Tests have departed into the folder marked “Red Ball Disasters”; India’s intention is now to stage a party to help them forget what has gone before. One game into the Royal London ODI series, the outlook has been transformed. They look empowered again.
Suresh Raina, ignored for the Test series, had the undamaged mindset to fill the role of party compere as he played with an exuberance rarely seen from India during their mauling in the Test series, proceeding with a cheerful vigour to make 100 from 75 balls, his first ODI century for four years.
England’s response was dire, resulting in their second-heaviest defeat against India, in terms of runs. They can console themselves that people tend to lose interest when games are decided by Duckworth-Lewis calculations, but a passing stranger wandering down the banks of the Taff and armed only with an abacus could have concluded that this was a trouncing.
India have happy memories of Cardiff: they have made 300-plus here three times, the only side to do so, and beat South Africa and Sri Lanka here during their Champions Trophy success last summer. England did not get a look in as Ravindra Jadeja, whose left-arm spin has repeatedly tormented them in the limited-overs game, just needed to turn in a routine shift to yield 4 for 28. At the end, Ravi Shastri, imposed for the series as emergency team director, applauded seriously and shook hands with men in suits.
With ODIs predominating in the months ahead, England have a much-anticipated chance to develop a new brand of one-day cricket. On this evidence, they should call it “Careworn”. Faced by a slightly rejigged target of 295 in 47 overs, they survived the new ball convincingly enough – 54 on the board by the 11th over – but then five wickets tumbled for 31 in 12 overs as all their old doubts resurfaced.
Alastair Cook cobbled together some sort of form during the Test series to protect his captaincy but that is a long way removed from discovering the dash needed in the one-day game. He played in Alex Hales’ shadow, making 19 in 33 balls, before he fell lbw to Mohammed Shami, manufacturing a leg-side shot. Ian Bell’s leave alone saw him bowled second ball later in the over. No immediate retort then from the top-order players who Graeme Swann, a former team-mate has said will leave England’s World Cup challenge stillborn.
Batting under the lights looked a more onerous proposition than when Raina sallied forth earlier in the day, particularly when Bhuvneshwar Kumar brought one back to bowl Joe Root, but it was England’s deficiencies against spin bowling in mid-innings that were most galling for them as a deteriorating position left them unwilling to hit through the infield.
Hales had unfurled some flowing off-side drives – his trademark – during a debut innings of 40, but a top-edged sweep against Jadeja silenced him. Jadeja’s extra bounce also fooled Jos Buttler into poking a furtive catch into the off side. With light drizzle in the air, Eoin Morgan’s stretching sweep at R Ashwin lobbed to deep square leg.
For England, the collapse could hardly have been more disheartening. Up on a rain-spattered balcony, the coach Peter Moores checked his notes and Cook checked his fingernails. Neither offered a solution. At least Ben Stokes, whose average of 1.8 in his last 10 England innings was barely credible, could find a score of 23 faintly consoling. And James Tredwell hit his first ODI six – off Jadeja, too. Driftwood in a sea of despond.
There were also troubles for England with the ball. Chris Jordan delivered 12 wides in a return of 0 for 73, five of them in a single Powerplay over, as a lack of rhythm that had been apparent during the Test series turned into something more ghoulish in the 50-over format. Jordan, shaking his head and perspiring heavily, looked perplexed. It was another bad moment on that England balcony as David Saker, the bowling coach, scratched his teeth in concern.
But it was Raina, carefree even by his standards, who smash-and-grabbed the match for India. This was his first ODI hundred for 95 innings, stretching back to a tri-nation tournament in Bangladesh, when he made 106 against Sri Lanka in Dhaka in 2010. England’s quartet of right-arm pace bowlers offered an unvaried challenge, although the offspinner Tredwell had a rewarding outing considering his difficult season during which he was loaned out by Kent to Sussex.
He was dismissed the ball after he had reached his century, making room to flay Chris Woakes through the off side but picking out James Anderson on the cover boundary. Woakes, despite conceding 20 from one over as Raina took charge, somehow returned 4 for 52.
Raina, unsurprisingly considering his lack of cricket, had a few streaky moments early on. Early boundaries included an unattractive leg-side swipe at Tredwell and an uncertain edge against Anderson, and he was fortunate to escape Tredwell’s lbw appeal on 17 but, as the floodlights cut through a murky South Wales day, he became electrified.
England conceded 62 in the Powerplay between 35 and 40 overs – 42 of them in 16 balls to Raina. He withdrew his front leg to loft Woakes straight for six and then top-edge over the ropes to assert that his luck was in.
For Virat Kohli, though, there was no release from a miserable summer. After an unproductive Test series, in which he made only 134 runs at 13.40, the opportunity beckoned for Kohli to reassert himself in the one-day series, but he fell third ball for nought as he tried to come down the pitch to crash Woakes over the off side and plopped the ball into the hands of Cook at mid-off.
India began nervously. It took only two deliveries for them to be reminded of their deficiencies in the Test series as Anderson curved an outswinger past Rohit Sharma’s outside edge. Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan twice survived after running mix-ups; Woakes had Dhawan caught at the wicket. But Rohit found an ally in Ajinkya Rahane in a third-wicket stand of 91 in 16 as England’s back-up seamers failed to maintain the pressure on the sort of dibbly-dobbly day that would have made Ravi Bopara, a controversial omission from England’s squad, a useful man to have around.
Rahane carelessly allowed himself to be stumped off Tredwell, who then added Rohit to the sort of inside-out swing which had proved his downfall against Moeen Ali at the Ageas Bowl, his sole Test appearance. At 132 for 4 with barely 20 overs left, there was much work to be done and Raina did it. For once, a one-day half-century from MS Dhoni, ended by Woakes’ slower ball, was entirely overshadowed.
but I only go so far
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