Cook inspires buoyant England to make the difficult look routine

England 188-3 (22.1 overs) beat India 187-8 (23 overs) by seven wickets
  • @stephenbrenkley

If England fell into a pile of manure they would consider it could only be useful for their roses. They are almost drunk with self-belief and last night achieved with nonchalance a target that should have stretched every sinew to take a 1-0 lead in the one-day series.

The last thing that anybody expected here yesterday was a game of cricket. The second last was probably a game as diverting as the curtailed contest that eventually took place.

After relentless rain which lasted throughout the afternoon, India eventually made 187 for 8 from 23 overs. They started and finished in a blaze of vibrant, improvised strokeplay that indicated they still have some fight in them after a wildly unsuccessful tour. What happened next might just finish them.

England's response was still more ferocious. They were led from the front by their captain, Alastair Cook, who once more made the frequent suggestion that his game is not cut out for limited-overs cricket look like the ravings of madmen. He made his fifth score above 50 in 10 innings as England's one-day captain. His 80 came from 63 balls, included five fours and – what is still a collector's item for him – a six, and his side had five balls left as they clinched victory by seven wickets.

For the match to have taken place in any form was a triumph of doggedness and drainage. Throughout the delay, the ground staff issued several messages that they would need 90 minutes to have the pitch and outfield ready once the rain stopped (20 years ago it would have take 90 days).

And precisely 90 minutes after the final inspection, play began five hours late. Reduced to 23 overs, this seemed immediately to exaggerate England's loss of Eoin Morgan, their only true big hitter.

As the rain fell down, it was announced that he would miss the rest of the series with the recurrence of a shoulder injury he first sustained last winter in Australia. England had kept the injury quiet for a week while they hoped in vain it might respond to treatment.

The tourists were astonishingly good. After a catastrophic trip in which injury has plagued them and results have been dire, they might have been forgiven for being less than totally applied. The infusion of fresh legs might have helped.

Parthiv Patel, the replacement opener for Sachin Tendulkar, again blazed merrily away as England struggled to hit their lengths, distrusting wet run-ups. When he departed reluctantly to the faintest of edges behind, Rahul Dravid joined Ajinkya Rahane to stimulate a pace to India's innings which never relented.

Cook kept changing the bowling, which was understandable, but in the mêlée he seemed to forget to reintroduce Jimmy Anderson, who bowled three overs at the start for 11. The end of the innings was dominated by Suresh Raina, who atoned sparklingly for a forgettable tour with 40 from 19 balls.

On a pitch that was surprisingly fast and dry, England were undaunted. Craig Kieswetter found the long on boundary early, Ian Bell was briefly glorious and Cook saw it through with typical composure.

Rose Bowl scoreboard

England won toss


P A Patel c Kieswetter b Anderson 28/2/3/18/14

A M Rahane c & b Swann 54/1/5/47/88

R Dravid c Anderson b Swann 32/0/2/31/49

V Kohli c Bell b Swann 9/0/0/9/8

S K Raina c Stokes b Bresnan 41/3/3/19/29

*†M S Dhoni c Bell b Bresnan 6/0/1/5/9

M K Tiwary c Bell b Bresnan 11/0/1/7/11

R Ashwin run out 1/0/0/1/3

P S Kumar not out 0/0/0/1/0

Extras (lb1 w4) 5

Total (for 8, 23 overs) 187

Fall 1-30, 2-109, 3-125, 4-143, 5-164, 6-182, 7-186, 8-187.

Did not bat R Vinay Kumar, M M Patel.

Bowling T T Bresnan 4-0-43-3, J M Anderson 3-0-11-1, S C J Broad 3-0-25-0, J W Dernbach 5-0-50-0, R S Bopara 2-0-13-0, G P Swann 5-0-33-3, S R Patel 1-0-11-0.


*A N Cook not out 80/1/5/63/99

†C Kieswetter lbw b R Vinay Kumar 46/3/4/25/30

I R Bell c Kohli b Ashwin 25/0/4/16/17

R S Bopara c Kohli b Ashwin 24/0/3/20/30

S R Patel not out 9/0/0/9/13

Extras (lb2 w2) 4

Total (for 3, 22.1 overs) 188

Fall 1-67, 2-105, 3-165.

Did not bat B A Stokes, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, J W Dernbach.

Bowling P S Kumar 4-0-41-0, R Vinay Kumar 4.1-0-33-1, R Ashwin 5-0-42-2, M M Patel 5-0-35-0, V Kohli 3-0-22-0, S K Raina 1-0-13-0.

Umpires R J Bailey and B R Doctrove.