January 23, 2002

England's commitment won the day

The second one-day international at Cuttack once again demonstrated the basic difference between the two sides

The second one-day international at Cuttack once again demonstrated the basic difference between the two sides. While the youngsters in the visiting side are keen to contribute towards their team's cause, the younger lot in the Indian side seem to be indifferent when it really matters. The chase at the Barabati Stadium was well within the reach of the hosts but they made a mess of it. The fact that there were short by a matter of just 16 runs makes it all the more difficult to digest. The margin of the defeat was reduced by the heroics of the Indian lower order. Agarkar was involved in a couple of fighting partnerships, but in the end the visitors wrapped the game up in a fairly comprehensive manner.

The choice of inserting the Englishmen in was a bit of a surprise as the pitch at Barabati tends to become slow and low in the latter part. Ganguly knows this particular aspect about the Barabati Stadium as he has played on numerous occasions there. Having put the opposition in, the Indians failed to drive home the advantage they had gained by claiming both the openers cheaply.

Nasser Hussain
Paul Collingwood
© Reuters
The inexperienced Paul Collingwood rose to the occasion in grand style. He played a very calculated and responsible innings and his partnership with Vaughan ensured that the visitors were in with a fighting chance. The Indian scribes use the term "professionalism" more often than not but the Englishmen exhibited what professionalism is all about. They played with a lot of determination and were quick to realise that they had to put enough runs on the board to stay in the game.

Collingwood was quick on the uptake and he was almost perfect in his shot selection especially against the spinners. Not that he was averse to playing shots against the medium pacers, but shots he played against the spinners were all the more praiseworthy as they were the bowlers expected to torment the English batsmen. Vaughan is another batsman who has looked the part on this tour though he had not got big scores before Cuttack. But on the day it mattered, both Collingwood and Vaughan took it upon themselves to consolidate and take their team to a respectable total.

It seemed difficult to keep Collingwood out of the game on Tuesday as he was also instrumental in running Laxman out though the Indian stylist has to be ticked off for his lethargy.

There is a lot of talk about the run-outs being instrumental in India losing the game but the run-outs (Tendulkar's) were a result of some outstanding fielding from the Englishmen. After the unfortunate dismissal of Tendulkar, the middle-order batsmen played with gay abandon. Sehwag and Badani have only themselves to blame, with neither of them realising the importance of their tenure at the crease. The young wicketkeeper Ratra showed a lot of pluck and spirit in the little innings of his. He was ever on the lookout for singles and punished the loose deliveries without any fuss. In the two games he has figured so far, he has acquitted himself well and this is a good sign as the selectors are still at sixes and sevens in the case of the wicketkeepers slot.

Nasser Hussain
Sanjay Bangar
© CricInfo
The team management has to review their strategy as they go along to Chennai because the team that gets ahead there will have the upper hand. On placid wickets it would be worthwhile to get in Bangar into the eleven at least to gauge his capability. Unless and until he is played there is no way on earth a final decision could be made about the number six slot. It is ideally an all-rounder's slot and with Badani batting in that position, neither the team nor the young left hander is benefited. Coming back to Chennai, it will be a sort of a pilgrimage for Hussain and he would prefer to get out of Chennai as the victor.