India v England, 2nd ODI, Kochi January 15, 2013

Familiar problems for England to face

After the joy of securing the first ODI, England were brought back down earth with a bump and given a harsh reminder of the challenges in India
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Like fog and drizzle and queues and football hooliganism, England's performance in the second match of this series provided a startling reminder of the bad old days of English cricket.

All the familiar failings were there: a collapse against spin; 14 unused overs; a bowling display that leaked 108 runs from the final 10 overs and some timid batting that saw 19 runs scored in 10 overs in mid-innings. Had a miners' strike broken out in the Powerplay it would have been perfectly fitting. No doubt the rubbish in the England dressing room is yet to be collected.

But, on the basis that sides really do learn more in defeat than victory and England are looking to build towards future events, then they may reflect on this match as a valuable experience. While it is too early to reach conclusions over the ODI future of many of these players - we are not even halfway through this series, after all - it is becoming clearer who might, and who might not, be of use to England in the Champions Trophy and beyond.

Fitness permitting, England's attack for the Champions Trophy will contain James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Steven Finn in a first choice team. So this series can be used, in part at least, to decide on the identity of the fifth member of the attack.

The answers, to date, may prove a little inconvenient. In both the Champions Trophy, in the UK, and the World Cup, in Australia and New Zealand, a fourth seamer may be of more use than a second spinner. And, if England are to play two spinners, they would surely prefer the second to be a left-armer to offer variety to Swann's offspin.

However, in this series at least, England's most reliable bowler has been the offspinner James Tredwell. His 20 overs have cost only 4.60 apiece and he has demonstrated a calm temperament and level of controlled skill that should translate well to any surface or situation.

Samit Patel might prove even more attractive for England. After enjoying an excellent game with the bat in the first ODI, he enjoyed a decent game with the ball in the second. His left-arm spin would be a concern going into a big game on a flat pitch but his all-round ability may yet balance the England side better than any other options.

It is worth noting, however, that while England's three spinners - Patel, Tredwell and Joe Root - delivered 22 overs and took one wicket at a cost of just 96 runs, India' s bowled 18 overs and claimed 5 for 70. Such statistics are unlikely to be replicated in England or Wales.

England's seamers were less convincing. While each of them impressed at times, they were plundered horribly in the dying overs and delivered only one yorker in the entire India innings. Chris Woakes, given an opportunity in place of the injured Tim Bresnan, looked tight initially but lacked answers when India's batsmen went on the attack. In first-class cricket his main weapon is swing but sans that, and lacking the pace to force the batsmen on to the back foot, he is going to have to learn supreme levels of control to prosper at this level. The long full tosses he delivered when searching for the yorker were a concern.

Jade Dernbach conceded 20 from his final over and, like Woakes, was punished for bowling a good length in the dying overs. Until the death, however, he had shown glimpses of the talent that keeps the selectors persisting with him. His variations briefly made a one-day batsman as accomplished as MS Dhoni - and few are more accomplished in this format - appear foolish and he produced a beauty to dismiss Gautam Gambhir.

Like Woakes, Bresnan and Steven Finn, though, he - and England's bowling coach - would do well to work on a yorker than can be relied upon under pressure. If a bowler can consistently produce a yorker, their variations will prove all the more valuable. The game may have developed but it is worth recalling how few slower balls the likes of Joel Garner or Mike Procter delivered. If the yorker is good enough, the batsman will always be taking a huge risk in attacking it. It's an area in which England must improve.

Let us not worry about Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Eoin Morgan and Finn. They have shown what they can do and they are in this side for the long haul. Those who suggested after the win in Rajkot that Jonathan Trott may prove superfluous need to think again, though. Trott is sure to bat at No. 3 in the Champions Trophy and might well have provided the calm head and steady accumulation to have kept England in the hunt. Sometimes a players' value is more apparent in their absence.

Concerns about Craig Kieswetter should be far more pressing. His innings in this game was unusually poor: having laboured over 19 deliveries for his first run, he managed 17 more from his next 19 before tamely pushing one to midwicket. Twenty-nine of his 42 deliveries had been scoreless.

It is this one-dimensional element to his batting that remains so damaging. While he can, like many talented young biffers, hit a poor ball a long way, his difficulty in rotating the strike is allowing the opposition to build pressure and failing to provide a release. His keeping has improved but, after 45 ODIs, he is struggling to convince in either department. It is hard to deny that stronger options exist.

It is worth keeping this result in perspective, too. Before Rajkot England had not won one of their last 13 ODIs against India in India and have now won only two of their last 20. There were bound to be days like this on this tour. Few will recall them if England go on to win the Champions Trophy in June.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cric_J on January 18, 2013, 8:15 GMT

    The English people are overreacting after their team's heavy defeat in the second ODI pretty much like they did after the loss in the first test in Ahmedabad.We all know how that one panned out ! So please show some faith in the English team. And although I do think India will win the third ODI in Ranchi by a good margin,England may have a better chance to win in Mohali or Dharamsala than in Ranchi.

  • garrym on January 18, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    The "one dimensional" aspect of Kieswetter's batting has been highlighted many times and he should go. He has had plenty of chances but consistently uses a huge number of balls with no score. His keeping is only average as well. Bairstow is the most likely replacement if Prior is to remain a Test player only.

  • balajik1968 on January 18, 2013, 1:27 GMT

    There is a strong case for England to play Prior in the LOI squad. A good keeper, an aggressive batsman, and a scrapper. The idea of having someone just biff the ball does'nt work. Look at most of the top ODI batsmen, they keep working the ball around, before really hitting out. Kieswetter does not seem able to do that. All he seems to do is biff. England should seriously look at Prior as a one day player. They have a good top order in Cook, Bell, Trott and Pietersen. Samit Patel also seems to be fitting in nicely. What they need now is Prior,who brings in 2 skills batting and keeping. Do not waste time looking for the next Gilchrist. Gilly was a one off. I am sure he would not have been picked if his glove-work was poor.

  • JG2704 on January 17, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    @Nutcutlet -Could they not even try a spin option at the death. It may well go tits up but it's going tits up more often than not anyway so what are we risking? Surely this is a series where we could/should be trying different options.I don't have the stats but it seems that nearly every time our last few overs go for big runs

  • JG2704 on January 17, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    @ himanshu.team -Pres you mean Oz and SA otherwise your comms make no sense.Eng have had a good year and re Oz - we beat them 4-0 7 or 8 months or so ago so and also beat Pak in UAE 4-0 so we have had the results to back up the ranking.The problem is that - unlike SA in particular - we don't have the depth to be able to rest players and still likely retain the top spot(which we've been dethroned of already) So yes ,we might not be the best ODI side but have got the results to get us there

    @Venkat_Super_11 -It's the way the press work.Must admit some of the pieces on here go overboard one way or the other.Same with posters. I personally try to be equally critical of England's flaws when we win as when we are defeated

  • himanshu.team on January 17, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    England may be on top of the ODI rankings, but i never felt like they deserve to be there. It was more a matter of luck for them as England and Australia have both been better sides and even India was better till last year. Right now India is at its most vulnerable form. They just don't look like a side that can win against any good international side. Even then the victory that came against India in Rajkot was far from convincing. They should have thrashed India by a much bigger margin. Even in Kochi, they had the openers out cheaply within first 5 overs. They then got Kohli and Yuvi in relatively quick succession. From that point to concede 285 was not good at all. The batting was tested for the first time in the series against seam and spin. It collapsed miserably. They have to dig deep inside and find answers to these problems. They may still beat India in coming matches but, given the way India has performed recently, that would not be much to brag about.

  • Venkat_Super_11 on January 17, 2013, 3:55 GMT

    I am an Indian but a good cricket fan in general. I can't believe how critics wake up to demoralize a team as soon as they lose a game. Only few weeks back, England rewrote the record in sub-continent, defeating India in its own soil and that too, comprehensively. And they also drew the T-20 series. Lastly, they even demonstrated their batting skills and bowling skills in the first ODI and won India quite comfortably. But as soon as they lost a game,I don't understand how everybody in the name of editors and authors, start criticizing a good team. Do they expect a team to win all games and not lose even a single game? Australia had lost to worthless teams like Zimbabwe, Pakistan had lost to Ireland, SA had lost to Bangladesh. Does it mean that they are not good performers?Just because you have the liberty to write an article, it doesn't mean that you have to do resort to such distasteful comments. England has proved again and again that they are one of the top best teams in the world.

  • Harmony111 on January 16, 2013, 20:11 GMT

    @Bilal Shah: Regarding your comment for Kohli being found out by QUALITY bowling, do you not agree that Gul and Ajmal are quality bowlers too? Kohli faced them in BD as well as in WT20. Pls check how many he scored vs them - 183 & 70+.

    Turning your own logic around, were Gul & Ajmal not found out by Kohli alone in these 2 matches? We all saw how Viru smacked Gul for 4s in WC SF. Ajmal was mauled for 18 runs by Hussey in WT20 in WI. So who got found out here huh?

    Kohli simply had 3 bad games vs Pak. Junaid & Irfan etc are talented and promising but don't stretch how good they are or will be.

    I am sometimes amazed at the highly selective reasoning of some Pak fans here. All they now talk off is Kohli's failure cos he was their #1 threat and had a bad patch. Some Pak fans talk of Shoaib's yorker to SRT as proof of SRTs struggle vs fast bowling yet they hardly ever bring up the real hiding SRT gave to Shoaib, Wasim & Waqar in WC 03.

    And then you call us Ind fans as rude....huh.

  • Harmony111 on January 16, 2013, 19:40 GMT

    I am often criticized for being a bit too hard on those who criticize Ind. But I find it weird that some of these ppl keep shifting their grounds of criticism. Mondays they criticize Ind for P1 and on Wednesdays when P! is in Ind favour they pick P2 to again criticize India.

    An apt case is Ind opposes DRS cos then they will lose games more often as their batsmen depend on lucky decisions to score runs. Yet, India's WC 2011 is often simply waived off by saying Ind won it cos of the DRS which gave SRT not out who was lucky to stay there due to DRS.

    @SevereCritic: When Ind lost to Eng in 1st ODI by a mere 9 runs, it was called a thrashing. When Eng won the 2nd T20 off the last ball to drew level it was said Ind were losing at home too. When Ind sore runs (home or Hobart or Mirpur) it is said they get them on flat tracks only. Ind's bowling is (rightfully) derided all day.

    So, when Ind win by 127 runs & Ind bowlers bowl Eng out on a flat track < 40 overs - Celebration fits well, no?

  • dummy4fb on January 16, 2013, 18:42 GMT

    @ SevereCritic: I completely agree with you, India's main concern is their top order. They can't expect Dhoni or lower middle order to bail them out every time. Same was the patterns in recently concluded Pakistan series. For all his talent Kohli has been found short by some quality bowling, Rahane is nowhere near Dravid (as many suggested), Ghambirs problems are a well known secret to the bowlers world over. Yuvraj has had a bit success since his return, mainly because he stays true to his natural game. England on the other hand have their own problems, one feels that they are stuck between Test and T20 - yet to find a consistent ODI side. In the long run this series will provide a few answers about how the both sides will emerge in near future.