The Indians lost a great opportunity to thrash England 4-1 in the ODI series, and thus head into the next big series against Australia on a high. The hosts went into the dead rubber at Dharamsala high of confidence having won the last three games of the series, but could not transform the same into performance on Sunday. Like it has often been the case over the last 12 months, the experienced batting line up let India down at the start of the innings, as a result of which the lower order was left with too much to do.
On a pitch that had something in it for both the pacers and the spinners, England’s bowlers were top class. Since the time India came were put into bat first, after England skipper Alastair Cook won the toss, the English bowlers exhibited dominance. Tim Bresnan, who hadn’t had a memorable tour till date, made some amends, nipping out the in-form Rohit Sharma and the dangerous Virat Kohli off successive deliveries. Steven Finn also proved how good he could be with some help from the surface, by taking out Yuvraj Singh and big man M S Dhoni cheaply.
If ever India needed a big innings from Gautam Gambhir, this was the time. Unfortunately, he could not overcome his habit of giving it away after getting a start. Yet again, the left-hander did the hard work, occupying the crease for an hour, but just when the time for him to consolidate further was ripe, he perished. Gambhir seems to have got himself into a mental block of sorts, and unless he works on the deficiencies in his technique and takes out the demons from his head, his career will continue to head in the wrong direction.
The situationIndia found themselves in was rather similar to the one they faced against Pakistan at Chennai last month, if anything, against England they had a few more runs on the board by the time they lost half the side. In both cases though the damage had already been done. M S Dhoni played an immaculate knock to restore some credibility in the innings at Chennai, but his knock was in vain. At Dharamsala too India found a batting hero in Suresh Raina. The in-form southpaw played a gutsy innings and with help from a couple of lower-order batsmen took India to respectability. But, once England got the partnership going a win was out of the question.
In spite of ending the series on a losing note, India would still be pleased with their overall effort. As with any win, they were plenty of positives for India. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed gave further proof of their ability while Ishant Sharma got better as the series progressed. The return to form of Rohit Sharma was a massive boost, and Suresh Raina’s man-of-the-series-winning performance was an equally big plus. Times have been tough for India. They should now look to build further on this hard-fought triumph over England.
--By A Cricket Analyst