India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni took some of the blame for his side’s nine runs loss in the first one-day international at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here yesterday.
England started life under Ashley Giles with a first one-day win in India since 2006. New limited-overs coach Giles saw his side end a run of 13 matches without a win in the country in some style, posting a formidable 325 for four and then showing the nerve to withstand a bold chase that eventually subsided to 316 for nine.
England’s batsmen set up victory, with Alastair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85) putting on 158 — England’s highest opening stand in India — but the bowlers showed plenty of heart to see off opponents who at times looked capable of reeling in the target with time to spare. James Tredwell was the pick of the attack with career-best figures of four for 44, while Jade Dernbach struck twice in the 45th over to stem a Mahendra Singh Dhoni-inspired fightback. Dhoni blasted four sixes in an aggressive 32, but holed out with 55 still needed to open up the India tail.
New playing regulations mean there can now be a maximum of four fielders outside the ring and Dhoni felt that made the target — which would have been India’s record chase at home — more than achievable while he and Suresh Raina (50) were in place. “Frankly we should have got that — it was a very fast outfield,” he told Sky Sports 1.
“You got value for your shots and if you found the gaps more often it hit the boundary. I should have batted a few more overs and we would have got them.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it was quite easy if me and Raina had stayed. “I think when me and Raina were batting we had a good chance. But once he got out followed by me it made it very difficult.”
As expected, going by Dhoni’s pre-match view, Saurashtra’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored a triple century in the Ranji Trophy on Thursday, did not make the final XI. Wonder whether the captain rued his decision to leave out an in-form player. After 10 overs Gautam Gambhir and partner Ajinkya Rahane had reached 66, 12 more than England’s mark.
But the off-spin of James Tredwell and Joe Root stifled the runs and the former made vital inroads too, removing Rahane (47) and Gambhir (52) in consecutive overs as 96 without loss became 102 for two.
Whitewash in 2011
Captain Alastair Cook believes England have proved they are a different side to the one thrashed 5-0 in India a year ago. The England skipper was forced to deliver his post-match verdict in surreal circumstances, as the media room descended into pitch black and lasers, fireworks and techno music enveloped the stadium, but his mood was positive.
“If you compare that to what we were doing in 2011 I thought there was a big difference,” he said. “It is pretty much the same squad we had out here last time when we lost 5-0 so to get an early win proves to them that they can play in these conditions.
“It was important to get a win early doors for the main reason that it gives the lads a bit of confidence. We know it is hard, we know it is tough and different, but the way we fought was impressive and we’ll have to do that again in the next game.”