Captain Cook sinks India

Left-handers blistering knock carries England to seven-wicket win

Captain Cook sinks India

The seven-wicket drubbing in the rain-curtailed second one-dayer here on Tuesday night must have left the Indian skipper wondering if he is destined to win anything against England on this tour. After four consecutive drubbings in Tests and a loss in the lone T20 international, India appeared set to snap their losing streak at Chester-le-Street when inclement weather put paid to their aspirations.

At the Rose Bowl, rain delayed the start by five hours but once the game began, it never came back in the way of England’s victory march as the hosts built a 1-0 lead going into The Oval’s third ODI of the five-match series.

That the match took place at all was a tribute to the excellent drainage system and the doggedness of the ground staff here. It had rained heavily overnight and kept drizzling through Tuesday afternoon, interspersed with strong showers. But once the rain stopped, the hard-working groundsmen lived up to the promise of getting the match started in 90 minutes.

As a result, the match was reduced to 23-overs-a-side and India, asked bat first, posted a competitive 187 for eight with Ajinkya Rahane at the top and Suresh Raina towards the end coming good for the visitors. Led by skipper Alastair Cook’s deceptively quick-fire half-century (80, 63b, 6x4, 1x6), England made short work of India’s total to reply with 188 for three with five balls to spare.

Scoring at a shade over 10 runs per over in the first 10 overs, England effectively killed the match as a contest. Craig Kieswetter (46, 25b, 4x4, 3x6) set the pace with a blistering assault on the new-ball bowlers.

With Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar coming under the cosh, Dhoni brought in R Ashwin, who has often bowled in Power Plays with a great degree of success.

Kieswetter, however, launched the off-spinner for two consecutive sixes straight over the bowler’s head. Vinay did scalp the ultra-aggressive stumper, but that hardly put a brake on the rate of scoring.

England kept finding boundaries even after the seven overs of Power Play (including bowling Poweer Play overs) and Dhoni’s efforts to check the scoring by shuffling his bowlers paid little dividends. While man of the match Cook remained firm and fiery, mocking those who believe his game isn’t suited for the T20 version, Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara played useful cameos as the hosts closed in on victory.

Earlier, Rahane (54, 47b, 5x4, 1x6) gave another exhibition of his uncluttered mind and huge potential with a stroke-filled knock to prop up India’s total.

After Parthiv Patel’s belligerent 28 (18b, 3x4, 2x6), the World champions benefitted from a 79-run association between an industrious Rahul Dravid (32, 31b, 2x4) and an exuberant Rahane as the crowd, which had stayed back despite long hours of rain, lapped up every moment with Raina too joining the party.

The left-hander showed once again why he is such a dangerous player in the shorter version with a blinder (40, 19b, 3x4, 3x6) that provided the much-needed flourish to the innings after a bit of slackness in the middle.

Parthiv got India off to a rollicking start with a flurry of boundaries, Tim Bresnan (3/43) copping heavy punishment. His rasping cut off the right-arm quick was daring but nothing compared to his two towering sixes off the same bowler. James Anderson, surprisingly under-bowled despite the best returns, got rid of Parthiv but Rahane showed he is no flash in the pan with another attractive, attacking innings.

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