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January 27, 2013
India have reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in one-day internationals for the first time in three years. by finishing 0.20 rating points ahead of England after their 3-2 victory in the ODI series.
India had become the top ranked side after winning the third ODI on January 19 and held onto the spot, aided by South Africa's loss in their home series against New Zealand.
But they ended the series by being beaten, losing by seven wickets in Dharamsala, India's highest international venue. MS Dhoni had lost the toss on a chilly morning and England's fast bowlers struck three times in the first ten overs and reduced the hosts to 79 for 5 in the 22nd over.
"It was a bad toss to lose. Initially, in places like Dharamsala or Guwahati, where you have an early start, the ball does a bit," Dhoni said. "But this is good exposure for the younger batsman about how to play when the ball is seaming and swinging. The wicket eased out during the second half and it became easier for batting."
The fourth wicket of that top-order collapse was Gautham Gambhir, who cut James Tredwell to Ian Bell at point and was caught on 24. The dismissal continued a lean run for Gambhir, who had failed to pass 20 in the three ODIs against Pakistan. He began this series with a half-century in Rajkot but made only 8, 33 and 10 in three matches before Dharamsala.
"Yeah, he [Gambhir] has been going through a lean patch but he is an experienced player. I believe he has batted a bit better in the last few games," Dhoni said. "Unlike some of the earlier matches, he didn't look tentative and was a lot more decisive about stroke-making. "I believe he is improving and don't forget he is an amazing player of spin bowling. Ideally, we want him to bat till the 35th-40th over."
Another concern for India is the form of offspinner R Ashwin, who took 0 for 50 in Dharamsala and finished the series with seven wickets at 35.71 apiece. He was outbowled by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and England offspinner Tredwell. Dhoni said Ashwin's poor returns could be because of his excessive use of variations.
"Maybe he was using variations a bit too much but he has now realised his mistake," Dhoni said. "In the last couple of matches, he has been more consistent about length. He has not used too many variations and was trying to bowl to one line. The new ODI rules, with five fielders inside the circle, has also made it slightly difficult."
India don't play one-day cricket for quite some time now, with Australia touring for four Tests in February and March, followed by the IPL in April and May.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth