January 21, 2002

India enjoy good fortune in City of Joy

Nothing compares to the Eden Gardens! It is a most compelling experience for any cricketer to play in front of more than hundred thousand spectators in Kolkata. The excitement in the stadium is particularly high during a day-night one-dayer and Saturday proved no different.

I felt that the two teams were evenly matched for the first encounter of the six-match ODI series. The pitch at Eden Gardens though was a big let down; the ball kept low and that definitely is not good for one-day cricket.

Dinesh Mongia
© CricInfo
From the English point of view, the pitch did not suit their bowling attack, allowing the Indian batsman to drive the ball off the front foot. Ganguly and Tendulkar took full advantage of this factor and set the pace, and this helped Dinesh Mongia to play a good knock in his comeback match.

The other factor that impressed me a great deal was the Indian planning in this match, which was based on partnerships. Full marks to the think tank. The Indian team's batting was well thought of and rightly paced. For once, the batting came off, and by the time the lower order batsmen started arriving, the team had already put up 200 runs on the board.

The initial English batting was very good despite the odds being against them but their middle order caved in, allowing India to run away with the match. The Indian fielding was below par to start with, but as the match progressed they gained in confidence.

Trescothick showed tremendous character and determination to defy the Indian attack and score a blistering 121. England had a chance till he and Flintoff were together.

Andrew Flintoff
© CricInfo
It was interesting to see Ganguly bring on Anil Kumble to bowl at Flintoff; the Englishman was all at sea against Kumble in the Tests. It is to Flintoff's credit that he came through the test and showed enough signs that he will be a force to reckon with by the time the series ends.

As far as the Indian batting goes, VVS Laxman disappointed again. Sehwag was not at his usual best and struggled a lot. It was Badani's innings in the middle order, which really helped the Indian cause.

On the whole the match was evenly contested and the deciding factor was that the rub of the green was in India's favour. The toss did give India the advantage but I am not too sure whether England would have batted first had they won the toss. Dame luck might not have favoured the Englishmen at Eden Gardens but I am sure that this side will give Indians a run for their money in the coming matches.