Anyone who thinks cricket can be a peculiar game at times, will scarcely be shaken from that opinion by the fact that a contest scheduled to last seven hours can effectively be determined by which way a one rupee coin falls before the contestants have left the changing- room. Yesterday Gooch lost the toss, and with it, the game.
Daylight hours are so short here that an early start is unavoidable, but northern India at 9am in mid- January is not unlike England in late October. The dew was heavy enough to bring up spray from the groundsman's roller, and the Himalayas close enough to make a large brandy more enticing than the customary bottle of Gatorade.
By the first drinks session, England needed the brandy more as treatment for shock than to ward off the chill, but once the sun came up, a ball that had been swinging and seaming almost uncontrollably at times, then went as straight as a gunbarrel. Too late for England, whose top order had already been ripped out, and well though they recovered to reach 198 for 6 from 49 for 4 off 19 overs, India were able to pick off the runs with 29 balls to spare.
If, following the last ball finish in the first one-day international, the one-sided nature of this contest disappointed a packed audience of nearly 30,000, they kept it pretty well hidden. Only when an Indian batsman lost his wicket did the emotion-meter register anything below delirium and eventually one of the densely populated trees just outside the ground collapsed on to the terraces, showering several members of the Indian Supporters Club (Chandigarh branch) all over the legitimate ticket-holders.
England's only previous one- day international on this ground, in 1984, was also influenced by the weather - rain - and there was a time yesterday when the tourists were short odds to bat for not much more than the 15 overs they were reduced to on that occasion. The fact that they eventually made their full quota, owed something to the their professional resilience, a bit to India's abject fielding, and more than a little to the suspicion that, as a captain, Mohammad Azharuddin is a recent arrival from the planet Zod.
On the strength of yesterday's result, Azharuddin will probably keep his job for the rest the winter, in which case England may well have enhanced their prospects of winning the Test series by losing this particular match.
Why, when the ball was still darting around all over the place, Azhar decided to bring on both his spinners, was one of those 'answers on a postcard, please' conundrums. When the seamers were operating, there was a remarkable passage of 50 deliveries, between the 6th and 15th overs without a single run from the bat, and yet Azharuddin inexplicably invoked the bowling-change-by-rota system that stereotypes this kind of cricket.
The partnership that revived England, 83 from 21 overs, came from Robin Smith and Graeme Hick, although Smith could not have groped around more cluelessly early on had he been batting in a blindfold, and he was badly dropped at slip by Anil Kumble off Kapil Dev before he had scored.
Before these two came together, England's decline to 49 for 4 was largely the result of a series of horrible shots, although this sort of thing is often the way when a batsman has convinced himself of a short life expectancy. Mike Gatting's took first prize for the most gruesome, although Neil Fairbrother's was a contender, and the match-winner in Jaipur was in for just long enough to make one wonder, not for the first time, whether he has the technique to prosper on difficult surfaces.
Smith was out a bad time, when England were looking to press on from 132 for 4 in the final 10 overs, and Hick, who otherwise played extremely well in the circumstances, is too fluent a straight hitter to get out, as he did yesterday, attempting to smear off stump deliveries over square leg.
The only reason England finished with any sort of score was Dermot Reeve's 33 off 33 balls, largely through clubbing a series of leg-side boundaries with a shot that is a sort of cross between someone baling hay and a man feeding a cement mixer. However, one-day cricket is rarely about awarding marks for artistic impression.
John Emburey's meaningful future on this tour was in some doubt after being plastered across half of India and having missed this game with a groin strain, although this might be subject to re- appraisal (at least for the remaining one-dayers following the Test series) after Ian Salisbury conceded 42 off eight overs.
At least Navjot Sidhu demonstrated that his glut of sixes is not solely a personal grudge against Emburey. Yesterday he took his tally against England to 11 by smiting Salisbury for a couple more, and his record against the tourists this winter currently stands at 229 runs, average 99.66.
India's selectors yesterday recalled the middle-order batsman Ajay Sharma for the first Test against England, at Eden Gardens, Calcutta, starting on 29 January. One of two changes to the 14-man squad for the one-day matches, Sharma comes in for the seamer Salil Ankola. Kiran More reclaims his place behind the stumps from Vijay Yadav.
INDIAN SQUAD: * M Azharuddin, N S Sidhu, W V Raman, S R Tendulkar, P K Amre, A K Sharma, V G Kambli, K S More, Kapil Dev, M Prabhakar, J Srinath, A R Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju, R K Chauhan.
(India won toss)
* G A Gooch c Tendulkar b Srinath. . . . . . . . 7
(44 min, 27 balls)
] A J Stewart c Azharuddin b Kapil . . . . . . . 7
(29 min, 21 balls, 1 four)
R A Smith lbw b Kumble . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
(130 min, 106 balls, 4 fours)
M W Gatting c and b Srinath. . . . . . . . . . . 0
(17 min, 12 balls)
N H Fairbrother lbw b Raju. . . . . . . . . . . .7
(26 min, 17 balls, 1 four)
G A Hick b Kapil Dev. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
(92 min, 73 balls, 4 fours)
D A Reeve not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
(49 min, 33 balls, 1 four)
C C Lewis not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 . .16
(26 min, 16 balls)
Extras (lb13 nb4 w13). . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Total (for 6, 211 min, 50 overs). . . . . . . .198
Fall: 1-19 (Stewart), 2-20 (Gooch), 3-22 (Gatting), 4-49 (Fairbrother), 5-132 (Smith), 6-153 (Hick).
Did not bat: P A J DeFreitas, P W Jarvis, I D K Salisbury.
Bowling: Kapil Dev 10-2-40-2 (w2) (6-2-9-1, 4-0-31-1); Prabhakar 8-0-30-0 (w2, nb3) (4-0-10-0, 3-0-14-0, 1-0-6-0); Srinath 10-2-34-2 (w6, nb1) (6-2-14-2, 4-0-20-0); Tendulkar 3-0-16-0 (w3); Venkatapathy Raju 9-0-28-1; Kumble 10-0-37-1.
Progress: 50: 95 min, 119 balls. 100: 122 min, 195 balls. 150: 179 min, 265 balls.
Hick's 50: 74 min, 63 balls, 4 fours.
N S Sidhu c Reeve b DeFreitas . . . . . . . . 76
(152 min, 107 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes)
M Prabhakar c Reeve b Lewis . . . . . . . . . 36
(91 min, 59 balls, 4 fours)
V G Kambli c and b Jarvis. . . . . . . . . . . 9
(21 min, 24 balls)
* M Azharuddin lbw b Reeve. . . . . . . . . . 36
(79 min, 44 balls, 3 fours)
S R Tendulkar lbw b DeFreitas. . . . . . . . . 1
(9 min, 5 balls)
P K Amre not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
(37 min, 32 balls, 4 fours)
Kapil Dev not out. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
(4 min, 4 balls, 1 four)
Extras: (lb3 nb6 w5). . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Total: (for 5, 202 min, 45.1 overs) . . . . .201
Did not bat: V Yadav, A R Kumble, J Srinath, Venkatapathy Raju.
Fall: 1-79 (Prabhakar), 2-99 (Kambli), 3-148 (Sidhu), 4-161 (Tendulkar), 5-195 (Azharuddin).
Bowling: DeFreitas 10-1-31-2 (nb1) (6-1-15-0, 4-0-16- 2); Jarvis 10-1-43-1 (nb5) (5-1-16-0, 3-0-18-1, 2-0-9- 0); Reeve 6.1-0-33-1 (3-0-16-0, 3.1-0-17-1); Lewis 10-0-47-1 (nb1, w1) (2-0-8-0, 5-0-18-1, 3-0-21-0); Salisbury 8-1-42-0 (w4); Gatting 1-0-2-0.
Progress: 50: 62 min, 97 balls. 100: 118 min, 166 balls. 150: 156 min, 214 balls. 200: 202 min, 275 balls.
Sidhu's 50: 124 min, 86 balls, 3 fours, 1 six.
Man of the match: N S Sidhu.
Umpires: V K Ramaswamy and S V Ramani.
INDIA WON BY FIVE WICKETS
Boon passed fit, page 31
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