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In theory, England and their new captain are on a roll after beating South Africa in September. While conceding that England looked almost competent during that series, I feel it only reasonable to point out that they win ODIs at home quite regularly and the trouble invariably starts overseas. It’s not so much that the wheels come off when they play abroad as that the wheels fall victim to airport baggage handlers and never arrive.
The dismal history notwithstanding, England fans are obliged to clutch at any straws of optimism which offer themselves before the games get underway and grim reality sets in. We can try hoping that India will be so drained after beating Australia in the Tests that they will do a South Africa and roll over and play dead, but since they are replacing almost the entire batting line-up with fresh faces anxious to impress, it’s a faint hope. However, that means that for the first time in living memory the Indians will not be five times as experienced as our lot and may lose their heads once or twice and give England a chance to blow an easy win rather than being crushed as per usual.
There are seven ODIs to endure, so I suggest we play a bit of bingo to keep our spirits up. Just keep this list handy while you’re watching and see your score mount:
Ian Bell gets well set but fails to push on for a ton - 1 “I’m not thinking about the IPL. I just want to do my best for England." - 1 James Anderson goes for more than 16 in death over - 2 Paul Collingwood drops easy catch - 3 Commentator reacts to above with “You don’t see that very often.” - 1 Yuvraj Singh hits Stuart Broad for six sixes again - 50 Broad hits Yuvraj for six sixes - 100 Patel takes Patel’s wicket - 10 Ravi Bopara makes significant contribution - 25 Ian Botham says that Pietersen should be batting at 3 - 1 Luke Wright plays but scores no runs and doesn’t bowl - 2 Harbhajan Singh hits team-mate - 10 Peter Moores ascribes latest loss to players’ existential angst - 20 Run out as Pietersen attempts impossible single to get off the mark - 2 Fellow-commentator patiently explains Laws to Botham - 5 Three Indian fielders collide underneath Flintoff skier - 3 Alistair Cook plays while series still alive - 50 Umpire Bowden dislocates shoulder while signalling six - 20 Pietersen caught off switch hit - 4 Reference to Stanford as cameras pan across to England WAGs - 1 Batsmen forget about third powerplay (or are all out before taking it) - 10 Play interrupted by insects or birds - 2 David Lloyd mispronounces “Guwahati” - 3 Zaheer Khan gets revenge by bowling Matt Prior with giant jellybean - 40 Steve Harmison bouncer clears boundary - 6 Elephant stops play - 100 Gautam Gambhir given out caught off elbow - 15 Graeme Swann wins car and complains it is neither pink nor Ferrari - 8 England win dead-rubber game - 1 England win game while series is alive - 100
Eyes down and look in. Good luck, all!
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