November 24, 2008

England in India 2008-09

England out of order and out of contention

George Binoy
Owais Shah gave England a chance with 72 off 48 balls, India v England, 4th ODI, Bangalore, November 23, 2008
 © AFP
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The dash for runs was only a couple of overs longer than a Twenty20 chase. Unfortunately, England's conservatism in the batting order meant that they were always behind the target, writes Richard Hobson in the Times.

The opening partnership of Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara should have been split. Bell is a good foil for a quick scorer - I always thought he would bat well alongside Marcus Trescothick - but not a crackerjack in his own right. And it was asking too much of Bopara - the number eight this time last week - to take on Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel from the start with the required rate standing at nine per over. An experienced hitter should have been promoted.

It took a lot of monsoon and a lot of Duckworth-Lewis to devise England's target. But, however demanding 198 in 22 overs appeared, the disruption was slightly in their favour. They had been severely up against it when the second downpour arrived, India's 106 for one in 17 leaving them well placed for another score in excess of 300, writes David Hopps in the Guardian.

England's start had been feeble, repressed and thoroughly demoralising. After every unproductive over, one thought "this must be the low spot" only to discover that another over later there was another. In the first six overs of pace England did not middle a ball and scrambled to 21 for one in thoroughly embarrassing manner. Indians in the crowd laughed. The match felt lost.

England bowed out of this one-day series as they began, outplayed, outwitted, and out of ideas. To lose four games over a seven-match series in India would not be unusual for many visiting teams, but to lose four in a row, even if two of them did involve the arcane Duckworth-Lewis method, suggests a side long on inflexibility and short of solutions," writes Derek Pringle in the Telegraph.

For many of England's batsmen with ambitions of playing in the Indian Premier League, the run-chase would have been the perfect time to advertise their wares to any watching franchise-holders. But if they began with Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara looking like they were bargain basement and two for the price of one, Shah and Flintoff caught the eye with some superb ball-striking.

In the same paper, Geoffrey Boycott asks: how can you go out to bat for 22 overs, with the required run-rate hovering around nine runs per over, and leave your two most destructive players sitting on their backsides in the pavilion?

Poor weather may have prevented England from clawing their way back in to the seven match series in Kanpur, but it helped Kevin Pietersen’s side here. England’s Duckworth/Lewis adjusted target of 198 in 22 overs was always going to be tough to chase down, but it was easier than chasing around 350, the 50 over target India looked set to post before rain interrupted their innings, writes Angus Fraser in the Independent.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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