By Ashok Kumar
Well, the payback has begun. India thrashed England by 126 runs in the first match of the Airtel ODI series played at the Rajiv Gandhi sports complex in Hyderabad today. India won the toss and elected to bat first. The pitch was slow and the ball was keeping low.
Indian batsmen used to the conditions and played cautiously scoring at 4 plus run rate till the side went for the batting power play. Gambhir and Kohli stabilised the innings after Patel and Rahane fell cheaply. Then Suresh Raina and skipper Dhoni brought up the scoring rate to over five and in the process the former hit the first two sixes of the match. The duo brought the fifth fifty in 22 balls.
After Raina holed out to Peitersen at long on for 61 and a quick fire 26 by Jadeja, Dhoni could be seen in World Cup finals avatar, making full use of his trademark helicopter shot. The skipper was unbeaten at 87 and took the team’s total to 300.
For the first time in recent months, England looked vulnerable and beatable. At the nets, it was reported that coach Grant Flower shouted at one of the batsmen when he was unable to handle low delivery that you are going to face this kind of pitch throughout the series. And, England batsmen failed to handle low deliveries. Jonathan Trott, Graeme Swann and Samit Patel were bowled by deliveries that kept low. Ashwin and Jadeja spun the web beautifully while for the first time, Swann looked ordinary. Both Jadeja and Ashwin struck vital blows, including caught and bowled by each one of them.
A late blitz by Finn was not enough to take England anywhere near India’s total. Once again, India displayed excellent team work and move closer to looking beyond Sehwags and Tendulkars. After Srinath, Umesh Yadav is the first bowler to have crossed the speed of 145 kmph.