England can do no wrong. India must wonder if anything will ever go right again. When it seemed yesterday that the tourists, after seven catastrophic weeks, must at last record an international victory, they were denied.
It might be pushing it a bit to say that rain saved England, but not much. The position was looking decidedly dodgy at 27 for 2 in the eighth over, in pursuit of their opponents' score of 274 for 6.
England were already 33 runs short, according to the Duckworth-Lewis system, and had it been possible somehow to stage the minimum curtailed match – which requires at least 20 overs in the second innings – they would have needed another 137 runs from 76 balls.
The sheer cruelty of this was multiplied when the sky brightened sufficiently for a restart to be rescheduled. Under the terms of the new contest, England needed 224 to win from 32 overs, another 197. And then it rained. Still, there was false hope. Another resumption was allocated with the bare minimum now on offer. Again it rained.
Such has been the gulf in class and fortune between the teams that the overwhelming feeling was that if it had not been rain, there would have been something else. A plague of frogs, perhaps, or a batting miracle.
The likelihood was always that the limited-overs series would suit India more than the Test matches, notwithstanding their former No 1 ranking in the latter. The fact is that the one-day stuff keeps the home box office and television audiences ticking over. Oh, and they won the World Cup in April in considerable style.
With four matches to go India can either take heart from this abbreviated match or assume that this is not to be their season and begin, mentally, to head for home. The next fixture is scheduled for the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, and the weather forecast is once more dire. Two more matches will be played at Lord's and the Oval on the following Friday and Sunday and there will then be an interminable gap then until the next Friday in Cardiff, by when everybody will be ready to go home.
Half of India's squad have already done so. If poor form and approach have been their most crucial failings they have not been helped by repeated injuries. Six players have had their tour cut short and to this list might be added Rohit Sharma, whose finger was broken in facing his first ball yesterday.
Since Alastair Cook asked India to bat, it can be stated with perfect confidence that England did not expect to concede so many. A total of 274 is not what goes through a captain's mind when he wins the toss and fields.
For a side perpetually under the cosh of late and who managed to lose their most illustrious player, Sachin Tendulkar, shortly before the start with a sore toe, India played with uncommon confidence. Tendulkar's replacement, Parthiv Patel, who began his international career as a sprightly wicketkeeper who could barely hold a bat, played with calm solidity.
He and his fellow opener, the debutant Ajinkya Rahane, were not parted until the 15th over, when India had reached 82. Rahane was the first of two quick victims for Stuart Broad when he mishooked to long leg. Shortly after Rahul Dravid, playing his first one-day international in almost two years, was caught behind but it needed a review to confirm the decision.
Patel was dropped once by Ben Stokes, at point, when he had seven. It was a chance that should have been taken, although Stokes, preferred to Ravi Bopara and playing only his second ODI for England, in front of his home crowd, could be forgiven.
When Patel fell, five short of a maiden one-day hundred, he also provided Jimmy Anderson with a 200th one-day wicket. Only Anderson and Darren Gough have taken 200 for England in both Tests and one-day internationals; only Gough and Ian Botham have more international wickets than Anderson's 458. One day soon Anderson will catch them both.
England restricted India well in the closing stages, with only 30 runs coming in the last five overs. This was a feather in the caps of Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach but it seemed the damage had been inflicted.
With rain threatening, England began circumspectly. They still managed to lose two wickets. Cook chopped on to Parveen Kumar, who has been one of the few brighter spots for India these past few weeks, if not quite to the point of illumination. Kumar then had Craig Kieswetter leg before. It had been uncomfortable for Kieswetter, who is in poor form.
Not long after that the rain came and eventually the match was abandoned.
Emirates Durham ICG (One Day): No result – Rain. England won toss
P A Patel c Kieswetter b Anderson 95/0/12/107/153
A M Rahane c Patel b Broad 40/0/6/44/64
R Dravid c Kieswetter b Broad 2/0/0/6/7
V Kohli b Patel 55/0/4/73/92
R G Sharma ret ht 0/0/0/1/0
S K Raina c Cook b Dernbach 38/2/2/29/47
*†M S Dhoni c Kieswetter b Bresnan 33/0/2/36/41
P S Kumar not out 2/0/0/2/7
R Ashwin b Bresnan 0/0/0/1/0
R Vinay Kumar not out 1/0/0/1/0
Extras (lb5 w3) 8
Total (for 7, 50 overs) 274
Fall 1-82, 2-87, 3-190, 4-206, 5-266, 6-272, 7-272.
Did Not Bat M M Patel.
Bowling J M Anderson 9-0-41-1, T T Bresnan 10-0-54-2, S C J Broad 10-0-56-2, J W Dernbach 9-0-62-1, S R Patel 10-0-42-1, I J L Trott2-0-14-0.
*A N Cook b P S Kumar 4/0/1/10/9
†C Kieswetter lbw b P S Kumar 6/0/1/19/26
I J L Trott not out 14/0/3/14/19
I R Bell not out 2/0/0/1/1
Extras (lb1) 1
Total (for 2, 7.2 overs) 27
Fall 1-6, 2-21.
Did Not Bat E J G Morgan, B A Stokes, S R Patel, T T Bresnan, S C J Broad, J M Anderson, J W Dernbach.
Bowling P S Kumar 4-1-11-2, R Vinay Kumar 3.2-1-15-0.
Umpires B R Doctrove and R K Illingworth.