India v England, 4th ODI, Kochi April 6, 2006

Dravid's brave gamble

Rahul Dravid made a brave decision to employ the second Powerplay in the 29th over. It was a move that could so easily have backfired but as it turned out, it was the masterstroke that swung the game India's way

Rahul Dravid has made some curious decisions against England this season - bowling first in the Mumbai Test, and using Gautam Gambhir for one over that cost 13 runs in the second ODI at Faridabad. Today, he made a brave decision to employ the second Powerplay in the 29th over. It was a move that could so easily have backfired but as it turned out, it was the masterstroke that swung the game India's way.

England were 59 for 2 in the tenth over and Kevin Pietersen's ominous form prompted Dravid to delay the second Powerplay. However, the runs kept coming and England added 50 runs in the next ten overs. Even when Paul Collingwood departed at 117 for 3, Dravid had several boundary riders because big-hitting Andrew Flintoff had joined Pietersen.

The overs ticked by and no wickets were forthcoming and Dravid could have waited and waited for a breakthrough. Instead he chose to gamble in the 29th over, when England were 148 for 3, by opting for the Powerplay. Flintoff slogged Harbhajan Singh's first ball to the long-on boundary and took a single off the next. Pietersen, having used the power-sweep so effectively, tried to repeat the stroke but the extra bounce resulted in a catch to square leg. Flintoff's wicket soon followed and Ramesh Powar produced a ripping offbreak to make it three wickets for India, and just 40 runs for England, in the ten overs of the second and third Powerplays. The following graphic shows England's progress between overs 19 and 38, the last ten of which were the final Powerplays.

  • In four matches, England have conceded 65 runs through wides and no-balls, while that number for India is just 17, a crucial difference in what has been a low-scoring series.

  • Kevin Pietersen top-scored for England with 77. It was the 10th time out of 22 innings that he has been England's highest scorer in ODIs.

  • India won their 15th consecutive chase, breaking the earlier world record of 14 set by West Indies between February 1985 and November 1986. They also equalled their own record of eight straight ODI wins. India have won eight ODIs in a row twice before - between February and August 1985 and at the 2003 World Cup.

    George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo