By Ashok Kumar:
Finally, there was something to smile for England and they go back happy. England reached the easy target of 121 losing only four wickets and 8 balls to spare, thanks to half century from the most popular player in the side Kevin Pietersen. And, frankly speaking, England rediscovered its touch for the first time, batted, fielded and bowled well right from the word go.
In fact, Kevin made a mockery of Yusuf Pathan’s bowling by getting into position before the ball was bowled and played a switch shot over long off. The next ball was dispatched to mid wicket boundary. Pietersen marked the gaps and would hit only in those areas with great ease but it was another attempted switch shot that cost him his wicket to Raina when only 14 runs were required. Also, Kevin was a bit lucky when Raina dropped a difficult chance at backward square leg.
India started badly after winning the toss when they lost two wickets in the first two overs with one run on board. Ajinkaya went without scoring while trying to drive a Finn delivery but edged to Kieswetter who jumped to hold on to the catch. Next over, Robin Utthapa edged a Bresnan outside the off stump ball into the slips. Both Bresnan and Finn and later Patel and Bopara choked the Indian batting. But thanks to some lusty hitting by Ashwin, India managed cross 100 and give a target of 6 an over to England. The ‘chopper’ (Dhoni) failed to take off to give the side an extra 15 to 20 runs that would have given the home team a respectable total to defend.
“We were 15 runs short,” said MS Dhoni at the presentation podium. “It was the sort of wicket where you’d aim for 150 odd runs. We didn’t get off to a good start. It was very slow, so it was very difficult. They used the slower ball very well. Ashwin played some shots, and that’s why we reached 120 odd runs. No point thinking about the Australian series right now, what’s important is the next few days off and then back for the Tests. It’ll be a good series for the youngsters, especially the bowlers.”
Samit Patel is presented with a motorcycle for his all-round effort
Kevin Pietersen was declared the Man of the Match for his half-century. “Tricky wicket,” he says. “It’s one of those wickets where the first six overs you’ve got to take a risk or two. Luckily I was dropped! It’s a good place to come and play as a batter, but a lot of us underperformed. But believe me, we tried our hardest. We’ve got a lot of work to do technique-wise here in the subcontinent. But we’ll continue to give our best and try to improve. We’ve tried really hard on this trip, although we came unstuck in the one-dayers.”
“It’s been a very tough month for us,” admits Graeme Swann. “We’ve played some abjectly horrible cricket, but it came together today. Finn has been the shining star for us for the whole month, I brought him on today when I needed a wicket and he provided. We know that we played some poor cricket for five games, and one swallow doesn’t make a summer.”