India ease to seven-wicket win
Guided by an 82-run partnership between veteran Gavin Hamilton (44) and Neil McCallum (41), Scotland recovered from four early blows to reach 203, but a rain-revised target of 209 proved far too easy for India, who improved their one-day record to 6-1 after that horrible run at the World Cup. This was not one of the more convincing wins of the season for India, but with runs and wickets from their fringe players, such as Gautam Gambhir who made an unbeaten 85, it is a gentle feeler for a year that still holds 20 ODIs.
With Paul Hoffmann, in his last game, and John Blain giving no room to free the arms, Robin Uthappa and Gambhir had to rein in their naturally flamboyant ways. Uthappa, who has not played an ODI since the World Cup, was away with a four to fine leg but struggled to work the ball into the gaps despite taking guard over a foot outside his crease. There were more than seven overs between India's first and second boundaries but Uthappa finally found his footwork, and his confidence showed in bludgeoned drives and one spanking six in an opening stand of 104.
An inswinger from Craig Wright beat Uthappa's defence on 55 and Dinesh Karthik came and went for 14 but Gambhir, whose only opportunities in England have come in the tour games, pressed on. It was not pretty; he felt his way through the early overs before driving his first four through the covers in the tenth. There were repeated wafts outside off stump in between firm drives through midwicket and mid-off as Gambhir did his part to whittle away at the target.
His half-century was raised from 76 balls and he continued in the same grafting manner, though there was a pleasing straight six to raise the 50 stand with Yuvraj Singh, who injected some oomph into the chase with a 28-ball 38. Dravid, no stranger to these parts having represented Scotland in the county circuit, drew cheers from the crowd in an unbeaten ten-run knock as India crossed the finish line in the 40th over.
India's pace bowlers were far from threatening but they did not need to be against a shaky top order. Ajit Agarkar managed gentle swing to get rid of Navdeep Poonia, while RP Singh - who ambled in to bowl but still put in enough in his delivery stride to produce good lift and carry - nipped out Fraser Watts and Majid Haq. Munaf Patel, returning after a back muscle problem sent him home from Bangladesh in May, mixed wides with accurate, lifting deliveries and succeeded in getting the crucial wicket of Ryan Watson, the free-stroking Scotland captain.
There were erratic moments, however, as 15 wides in the first 21 overs indicate, and though Munaf might be well enough to return to the line-up, his fielding efforts were by no means adequate. These lapses, and one tough drop by Yuvraj off McCallum after the first rain interval, allowed McCallum and Hamilton to launch a period of Scottish dominance against the spinners.
The sweep, mostly to deliveries on and outside off stump, fetched easy singles and doubles and forced the spinners to change their line. Hamilton was confident driving down the ground, while McCallum was at ease working the ball to leg. McCallum celebrated his reprieve by thumping Ramesh Powar out of the ground and later raised the 50 partnership off 74 balls with a streaky four past gully.
Piyush Chawla tossed it up and was twice swept to the fine-leg boundary but at 131 for 5, Mahendra Singh Dhoni snapped up a thick under-edge to get rid of a leaden-footed McCallum. Chawla caught Colin Smith shuffling across the stumps (146 for 6) but Hamilton and former captain Wright, with a career-best 38, helped Scotland get close to 200.
Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo