Spinners made the difference
One side gambled on picking two spinners, another decided to go ahead with an all-pace attack but, as both captains admitted at the end of the day, it turned to be a decisive move. India's spin duo, comprising Piyush Chawla and Ramesh Powar, applied the brakes in the middle overs while England, without Monty Panesar, couldn't keep a strong batting line-up under check.
"We took a bit of a gamble there," said Rahul Dravid, whose calculated assault at the end got him the Man-of-the-Match award. "We knew there were small boundaries, but it was one of the areas we had suffered when we did not have wickets at the Rose Bowl in the middle overs. I think we took crucial wickets. We needed them to defend even a total like 329 in this ground."
Paul Collingwood explained the reasoning behind the move, which Dravid himself felt was a logical one. "There was some grass on the wicket. It still had plenty of pace and carry for a Bristol wicket. I think it [the ball] went through OK. It was obviously a small ground so that came into the equation as well.
"There was plenty of bounce and the seamers had done so well at the Rose Bowl so we decided to go with than kind of balance. To be honest, let's give credit to the Indian batsmen. When you're bowling against a line-up like that they can make any bowler look average."
Collingwood fell to the guiles of Chawla, bamboozled by a googly while trying to attack. "He mixes up pretty well actually," Collingwood said. "He kept really tight. But he has got plenty of energy and looks very much a typical one-day player you get these days."
"I think we had to keep going on them constantly," he said when asked if England's inability to battle spinners in the middle overs was a growing concern. "When you're chasing a total like 250 or 260 that it looks OK but when you're going to be chasing seven or eight an over you're bound to lose some wickets in the middle. [That we got so close] proves that we can knock big totals off."
|'I think we had to keep going on them constantly,' Collingwood said when asked if England's inability to battle spinners in the middle overs was a growing concern. 'When you're chasing a total like 250 or 260 that it looks OK but when you're going to be chasing seven or eight an over you're bound to lose some wickets in the middle. [That we got so close] proves that we can knock big totals off'|
Dravid seemed thoroughly impressed with Chawla as well, especially with the fact that at 18, he didn't fear backing himself. "He is a young kid. He played all his cricket outside India where the pitch and conditions do not suit his kind of spin bowling. He's got a terrific attitude for an 18-year old, he always wants the ball and looking to bowl to good batsmen, looking to set aggressive fields."
The other bowling star of the day was Andrew Flintoff, who snapped up his first one-day five-wicket haul. "He's pretty much OK," said Collingwood when asked about his fitness status. "He's got a bit of stiffness in his knee, but I think he's pretty happy with getting a five-for and looking forward to the next game. He knows exactly what he's doing with ball and hopefully the other seamers learn from him."
India had plenty of injury concerns before the game but Dravid said that Yuvraj Singh was the only doubtful starter this afternoon. "Sachin was fit enough to play the game. He spoke to me in the morning and he felt comfortable. Only Zaheer we felt was not fully fit for the game. There was a bit of doubt about Yuvi as well, but he went through the training in the morning and felt good." Tendulkar missed the entire second innings but Dravid said it was only a case of "feeling a bit giddy".
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is assistant editor of Cricinfo