In which England hark back to the bad old days
It's the epic bat-and-ball clash that is already being described as "one of several limited-overs series taking place in January". In the blue corner, the undisputed and inexplicably top-ranked 50-over side in the world. In the other blue corner, complaining about the lack of wi-fi, it's the challengers, MS "Transition" Dhoni and the Excuse-Makers from Mars.
It reminds me of the lesser-known Biblical clash on the undercard at the David versus Goliath bout: the one between David's heavily tattooed cousin Dwayne, who had an unfortunate tendency to sling stones into his own face, but who talked a good game, and Goliath's younger brother Geoffrey, who had anxiety issues and didn't like people looking at him.
Two games in, and, as predicted, the thing makes no sense whatsoever. The cricket has been quite entertaining, but there's more fun to be had by watching desperate cricket hacks attempting to construct a coherent narrative out of the randomness. Three days ago England had boldly gone and conquered the final frontier. Today the warp drive went into reverse.
I'm not complaining. As a wicket junkie, there's nothing I like more than a good collapse, and since New Zealand don't play every week, it was a pleasant surprise to see England staging a tribute to the good old days by not even getting close to organising an exploratory committee to look into the feasibility of mounting an effort to chase India's total.
Ian Bell started it by successfully nicking a wide one that Joel Garner wearing arm extenders would have struggled to reach. Although, to be honest, I think a taller man, with nothing to prove height-wise, probably wouldn't have bothered going for it. Napoleon, on the other hand, would definitely have played that shot, as would have Alexander the Great and any of the Seven Dwarfs, with the possible exception of Sleepy, who was a great leaver of the ball.
Bell's colleagues followed him to the pavilion with unseemly haste. Joe Root's dismissal illustrated the folly of allowing youngsters to use adult equipment, as he got his oversized bat tangled in his baggy trousers. Steven Finn got into a terrible flap with one of Ashwin's carrom balls. He kind of looked out, but no one was entirely clear on the details, so the bowler played a quick game of 20 questions with Steve Davies.
"Was it a stumping?"
"Ooh close, but not the right answer. Have another go."
"Erm, timed out?"
"Nope. I'll give you clue. It starts with a C."
"Oh, I think I know this. Was it caught and bowled?"
"Hit wicket doesn't start with a C."
"It's got a C in it."
"No, you're getting colder, to be honest."
"Hit the ball twice? Drunk and disorderly? High treason?"
"No, no, no. It rhymes with 'out for nought'."
"Erm, could you whisper it?"
"No, but I can mime it for you if that would help."
"Oh, now I get it!"
"So what do we say?"
"And on what grounds?"
"Was he out caught, umpire Davies?"
"He was indeed, well done. Off you go Finn, you're boring me now."
Finally, it was interesting to see how the players adapted to the new playing regulations that require each team to attempt to instigate a pointless squabble during the Powerplay. It was Jade Dernbach who stepped up to the petulance plate for England by complaining that the Indian captain was standing in the wrong place. Showing why he's still the best man for the job, Dhoni defused the situation by refraining from the obvious retort: that at least his arms didn't look like a couple of delinquent chimpanzees had been at them with a box of blue crayons. When you can learn to bite your tongue like that, Gautam, then you can be captain.
Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England