If India’s performance in the second ODI at Cardiff was emphatic, their victory at Trent Bridge was equally convincing. They were superb all-round, first keeping the English batting down to a chaseable target, courtesy some fine spin bowling and brilliant fielding. Then, with the bat, they kept things simple and achieved the target with ease, deservedly going 2-0 up in the series. India would be absolutely pleased with their performance in the ODI series thus far, and whatever Ravi Shastri has done with the team has certainly helped thus far though it will be too early to give too much credit to him.
Without doubt, it were the spinners who won the game for India. After inserting England into bat, the pace bowlers could not provide the early breakthrough for India as Alastair Cook and Alex Hales, in particular, looked in command. However, once the spinners were introduced, the ball as well as the game completely ‘turned’. The fact that pace bowler Mohit Sharma could not bowl early on after picking up an injury proved to a blessing in disguise for MS Dhoni as the Indian skipper introduced his part-time spinners early on and, more importantly, they delivered.
There was help in the pitch, no doubt, for the spinners, but credit must be given to the Indian slow bowlers for utilising the same. Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu claimed two extremely important wickets for India by dismissing the well-set openers. The scalps claimed by the two part-time spinners were significant since both Cook and Hales could have taken England to an impregnable position had they carried on for longer. But, once the two were sent back, the other Indian bowlers could dominate, and it allowed Ravichandran Ashwin to be at his dangerous best.
Ashwin brought all his experience in the format into play, and aided by support from the surface put India on top. After the part-timers had taken out the spinners, Ashwin never allowed the middle order to settle. He bowled a tight line, and every time the Englishmen tried to break through, he was successful in stifling them, unlike the Tests. The scalps of Morgan, Buttler and Stokes were deserved rewards for the offie. India’s fielding was also top class on the day with Mohit Sharma running out Ian Bell, Raina pulling off a brilliant low slip catch, and Dhoni effecting a couple of stumping apart from taking two catches as well.
India had a couple of positives in the batting department as well. Rayudu, in particular, went a step ahead in securing his place in the side. Raina also carried on his good form, blazing his way to a quickfire 42. Virat Kohli also played himself into some sort of form before being dismissed for 40. Disappointingly, Ajinkya Rahane again got a start, but could not carry on to get a big score. The most disheartening aspect of India’s performance again was Shikhar Dhawan’s failure. It’s is about time he got a significant score.
--By A Cricket Analyst