Dhoni & Co. revel

The Indian skipper, M. S. Dhoni, was in a belligerent mood as he came up with a masterly unbeaten 87 in the first one-dayer. In the end, India walloped England at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. A. Joseph Antony reports.

Trust Mahendra Singh Dhoni to tweak the script from slack to slick.

‘Revenge,' for England's summer whitewash had seemed so much hyperbole at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, when rivalry resumed between two of international cricket's top teams on a sweltering October afternoon.

Hyderabad's heat had apparently hit the host harder as Team India chose first strike but took over two hours to crawl to three figures.

Three fourths of the way almost and the total was tethered at 139 for four. So tardy had scoring become that the otherwise swashbuckling Virat Kohli failed to reach the ropes even once.

Then Suresh Raina stepped out to the middle to effect a few changes in the scenery, snipping the English attack, which had hitherto kept the Indian batsmen on a tight leash, to shreds.

The little man's big deeds in a stay of an hour and a half included five boundaries and two sixes.

Like a patriarch pampering his wards, Dhoni watched Raina and Ravindra Jadeja help themselves, before sizing up the two-paced strip himself and taking centre-stage. Thereon, the spotlight rarely strayed from the skipper, his assault pulverising in power initially, sweetened timing coming subsequently.

Jadeja's brace of big hits off Samit Patel would pale in significance before the former's own contribution with the ball, later in the contest. With scant regard for speed or spin, Dhoni battered the English bowling, evident from 10 fours embellishing his unconquered 70-ball 87 and a helicopter hit off Steve Finn soaring over the long-on ropes.

The discipline shown by the bowlers from Old Blighty wasn't backed fully by the fieldsmen, typified by Jonathan Trott spilling a sitter at second slip that let off Ajinkya Rahane early in the Indian innings. Quite uncharacteristically, Kevin Pietersen's patrolling of the deep was way below par.

Shortly after the English response began, Craig Kieswetter departed, dabbing at a Praveen Kumar delivery leaving him, only to be caught by his counterpart Dhoni. That brought in Pietersen, who was hardly the superman he can choose to be.

Biffed on the bicep by Vinay Kumar, he was rapped on the finger later and didn't last much longer. The onus was now on Alastair Cook, who rose to the challenge. That the English captain was in fine nick was obvious in the way he held his own against speed and spin.

Cutting and swatting the bowlers behind square, only Cook looked convincing. The southpaw's 60, studded with seven boundaries, was the mainstay of the tourists' total in an otherwise feeble run-chase by his men. If only they had shown half the resolve he had, the story would have been quite different.

Well and truly stuck on the shoals of spin, the English campaign seemed to have run aground, starting with Trott, bowled neck and crop by Jadeja.

It was a veritable procession to the pavilion from there as the duo of Jadeja (three for 34) and R. Ashwin (three for 35) engineered an English collapse that ended in a 126-run defeat for the visitors.


India: Parthiv Patel (run out) 9, Ajinkya Rahane st. Kieswetter b Swann 15, Gautam Gambhir lbw b Dernbach 32, Virat Kohli c Pietersen b Patel 37, S.K. Raina c Bairstow b Finn 61, M. S. Dhoni (not out) 87, Ravindra Jadeja (run out) 27, R. Ashwin (run out) 8, P. Kumar (not out) 1. Extras (lb-4, w-18, nb-1) 23, Total (for seven wkts. in 50 overs) 300.

Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-52, 3-79, 4-123, 5-195, 6-260, 7-282.

England bowling: Bresnan 10-0-66-0, Finn 9-0-67-1, Dernbach 10-0-58-1, Swann 10-1-35-1, Patel 8-0-49-1, Bopara 3-0-21-0.

England: Alastair Cook c Vinay b Jadeja 60, C. Kieswetter c Dhoni b Kumar 7, K. Pietersen (run out) 19, Jonathan Trott b Jadeja 26, R. Bopara c & b Ashwin 8, Jonny Bairstow c & b Jadeja 3, S. Patel b Umesh Yadav 16, T. Bresnan st. Dhoni b Ashwin 4, G. Swann b U. Yadav 8, S. Finn (not out) 18, Jade Dernbach b Ashwin 2. Extras (w-3) 3. Total (in 36.1 overs) 174.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-40, 3-111, 4-120, 5-124, 6-126 7-134, 8-148, 9-163.

India bowling: Praveen Kumar 8-1-38-1, Vinay Kumar 5-0-24-0, Virat Kohli 3-0-11-0, Yadav 5-0-32-2, Ashwin 8.1-0-35-3, Ravindra Jadeja 7-0-34-3.