From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.45 :: Nov. 10, 2011
Steven Finn celebrates the fall of Ajinkya Rahane's wicket. The England paceman picked up three wickets in the match.
After the 5-0 hiding in the one-day series, England did well to win the final encounter, a Twenty20 International, against India by six wickets at the Eden Gardens. By achieving this, England ensured two things: halted India's winning streak and dismissed Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, finally, in five innings.
The men who stood prominently in the deserving victory were medium pace bowler Steven Finn and middle-order batsman Kevin Pietersen.
The two fashioned the English victory after Graeme Swann lost the toss and was asked to bowl first.
In a way Dhoni's decision to bat first on this slow track backfired. The English bowlers, especially Finn, made full use of the conditions and dismissed both the Indian openers, Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa, within eight balls of the innings.
The pressure was on India at this stage and the team struggled against some good bowling from the visitors.
Only Suresh Raina (39), Dhoni (21) and R. Ashwin (17 not out) did some scoring. Finn claimed both Raina and Ravindra Jadeja's wickets off successive balls. Slow medium pace bowler Ravi Bopara came on late to take the wicket of Yusuf Pathan and Praveen Kumar in a maiden over to complete the formalities.
Dhoni and Ashwin with a partnership of 29 runs for the ninth wicket helped India finish at 120 for nine in 20 overs.
That the Indian batsmen could hit only 11 fours and three sixes in 120 balls was not the right advertisement for a T20 game especially when this hallowed venue hosted it for the first time. The shortest version of the game is all about the domination of bat over ball! Instead, it was the other way round and the slowness of the pitch produced a poor quality match that a sizeable crowd could not savour.
The target of 121 was never a big deal for the world champion. Dhoni began with his best weapon, spin, from either end. It was a gamble Dhoni had to play and it did not give the desired result.
Having failed in his quest to prise out early wickets, Dhoni tried to contain the English batsmen and in the process managed to get Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales by the seventh over. By then England had made 40 runs. At this stage, England needed 81 runs from 13 overs. Pietersen, who played with a broken thumb, and Samit Patel ensured the victory with a rollicking 60-run stand for the third wicket in 7.4 overs. The game was all but over at this stage for India.
There was one significant happening which could have changed the course of the game. Had Raina taken the skier from Pietersen, when the batsman was on one, off Ashwin at backward square-leg, the script might have been different. But it was not to be.
It was a blistering knock from Pietersen, who begged his coach to give him a chance to play in this game. His match-winning 53 (39b, 5x4, 3x6) made all the difference. Ravi Bopara and Jonathan Bairstow had to push for singles and twos to ensure the victory.
Dhoni gave full credit to Pietersen. “KP batted really well. England calculated the game well. By the 17th over both teams were almost equal but the big difference was the four wickets and the eight wickets. India lost the plot in between,'' he said.
“We were short of runs. We were playing with eight batsmen. We always knew that the wicket would be on the slow side. It was important for the batsmen to continue till the end. We did not get off to a good start. This was not a pitch where you look to score 160-170. About 130 to 135 could have been a very good score to defend on this wicket,'' he elaborated.
India: R. Uthappa c Kieswetter b Bresnan 1; A. Rahane c Kieswetter b Finn 0; V. Kohli c Hales b Bresnan 15; S. Raina c Bairstow b Finn 39; M. Tiwary b Patel 15; M. S. Dhoni (run out) 21; R. Jadeja b Finn 0; Y. Pathan b Bopara 10; Praveen Kumar b Bopara 0; R. Ashwin (not out) 17; Extras (lb-1, w-1): 2; Total (for nine wickets in 20 overs): 120.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-5, 3-26, 4-66, 5-74, 6-74, 7-91, 8-91, 9-120.
England bowling: Finn 4-0-22-3; Bresnan 4-1-19-2; Dernbach 4-0-26-0; Patel 3-0-13-1; Swann 2-0-23-0; Bopara 3-1-16-2.
England: A. Hales c Rahane b Pathan 11; C. Kieswetter c Tiwary b Jadeja 12; K. Pietersen lbw b Raina 53; S. Patel c Tiwary b Kohli 21; R. Bopara (not out) 14; J. Bairstow (not out) 2; Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-4) 8; Total (for four wickets in 18.4 overs): 121.
Fall of wickets: 1-21, 2-40, 3-100, 4-106.
India bowling: Ashwin 4-0-20-0; Pathan 3-0-34-1; Jadeja 4-1-9-1; Praveen Kumar 1-0-13-0; Vinay Kumar 2-0-19-0; Kohli 2.4-0-13-1; Raina 2-0-9-1.
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