The chase goes awry

The Indian batsmen were done in by the bounce at Lord’s as the England pacemen put in a lot of effort to extract that extra bit from the surface. It was a disappointing performance by the defending champion. S. Dinakar reports.

The duel against the West Indies had exposed a failing in the Indian line-up. The top-order was vulnerable to well-directed short-pitched bowling. The English pacemen ruthlessly exploited the chink in the Indian armour.

England bowled to a plan after its batsmen had provided the side with a competitive score — 153 to be precise — to defend. In the end, a wave of disappointment swept through the Indian ranks.

The floodlights were on, but the lights went off in the Indian campaign. The defending champion was out of the ICC World Twenty20 after losing its first two matches of the Super Eight stage in Group ‘E’.

Against England, India came close — only three runs separated the teams in the end — but Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men were playing ‘catch up’ for most part. At no stage did they really threaten to win. The pacing of the innings was awry. The side made only 32 in the first six Power Play overs. Worse, it had lost two wickets.

The bounce in the surface at Lord’s and movements off its slope posed problems for the Indian batsmen. The English pacemen put in more effort as well — the host played with greater intensity — to extract that extra bit from the surface.

India mismanaged its chase. It was baffling why the young Ravindra Jadeja — he had bowled with much heart and skill earlier in the day — was sent at No. 4 when India’s most explosive batsman in this format, Yuvraj Singh, was cooling his heels in the dugout.

Jadeja, playing his first match of the competition, struggled to force the pace even as the asking rate climbed. The power hitters later in the order were left with too much to accomplish too late.

When Yuvraj finally came on — in the 11th over — he dumped two balls beyond the fence with an easy swing of the willow but overbalanced as a beautifully flighted delivery from off-spinner Greame Swann spun away from the left-hander after drawing him forward. Wicket-keeper James Foster was swift as he removed the bails.

England got its strategy right and its plans worked. Left-arm fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom got the new ball to dart across and bounce. Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina were softened with short-pitched deliveries before they were eventually dismissed off them.

Not only judicious short-pitched bowling was employed, they were also mixed with fuller length deliveries. Pushed on to the back-foot, the Indian batsmen struggled to get their feet moving to adjust to the length.

Paul Collingwood led well. He switched his bowlers around. Dimitri Mascarenhas’ dismissal of a fluent Gambhir — a short fine-leg was in place — was a well thought-out one.

Dhoni (30 not out off 20 balls) was unable to destroy the attack when India needed boundaries and soaring hits beyond the fence after losing too much ground in the early and middle overs. Yusuf Pathan (33 not out off 17 balls) struck two big sixes but did not quite deliver a booming blow in the critical 19th over.

Stuart Broad conceded only nine runs without giving away a boundary. He was spot on with his fuller length deliveries in this phase after hustling the Indian batsmen with the short-stuff earlier in the innings.

India required 19 off the last over. Sidebottom, who was adjudged Man of the Match, sent down yorkers and fuller length balls around off-stump; only four runs were scored off the first three deliveries. Yusuf pulled off a desperate six down the ground — he was one-handed as he completed the stroke — off the fourth but could get no more than a single from the fifth. India needed eight off the final ball.

Sidebottom did not deliver a no-ball or a wide; a leg-side boundary from Dhoni notwithstanding, England converged in a heap.

Earlier, Kevin Pietersen’s 27-ball 46 was an innings of innovation and skill. Before being adjudged leg-before to left-arm spinner Jadeja on the sweep, he had used his feet and wrists to fire the ball through the gaps or over the in-field.

THE SCORES England v India Result: England won by 3 runs.

England: R. S. Bopara b Jadeja 37, L. J. Wright c Pathan b Singh 1, K. P. Pietersen lbw b Jadeja 46, A. D. Mascarenhas (not out) 25, O. A. Shah c Jadeja b Harbhajan Singh 12, P. D. Collingwood lbw b Khan 7, J. S. Foster c & b Harbhajan Singh 6, G. P. Swann b Harbhajan Singh 0, S. C. J. Broad (not out) 3, Extras (lb-2, w-14) 16. Total (for 7 wkts; 20 overs) 153.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-74, 3-92, 4-122, 5-138, 6-145, 7-145.

India bowling: Z. Khan 3-0-26-1, R. P. Singh 3-0-13-1, I. Sharma 4-0-36-0, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-20-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-30-3, R. A. Jadeja 4-0-26-2.

India: G. Gambhir c Broad b Mascarenhas 26, R. G. Sharma b Sidebottom 9, S. K. Raina c Wright b Sidebottom 2, R. A. Jadeja c Broad b Swann 25, Yuvraj Singh st Foster b Swann 17, M. S. Dhoni (not out) 30, Y. K. Pathan (not out) 33, Extras (lb-4, w-4) 8. Total (for 5 wkts; 20 overs) 150.

Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-24, 3-62, 4-85, 5-87.

England bowling: J. M. Anderson 4-0-32-0, R. J. Sidebottom 4-0-31-2, S. C. J. Broad 4-0-21-0, K. P. Pietersen 1-0-9-0, L. J. Wright 2-0-16-0, G. P. Swann 4-0-28-2, A. D. Mascarenhas 1-0-9-1.