Finn's hat-trick helps England make winning start


Rajiv Gandhi Stadium

Without reaching top gear – which is not to say they failed to break sweat – England won the opening match of their short Indian tour yesterday. It was a bland victory, though in the country of the Champions League Twenty20 tournament, all show and no class, that is a bonus of grand proportions.

It took England the best part of a decade to recognise the importance of warm-up matches. Under Andy Flower they have taken them to a new, more intense level on the logical grounds that if you do the practice well you might have a better chance when it comes to the real thing.

The yardstick for this was the preparation for last winter's Ashes. England played their intended Test XI in all three preliminary matches, won the lot, were sleek as teak when the Ashes began and prevailed magnificently.

Their victory by 56 runs yesterday against a Hyderabad Cricket Association XI, which was not as makeshift as had been suggested, was not in that category. Yet it all ended happily enough with a hat-trick for Steve Finn which ended their opponents' innings in the 37th over, but it needed the bowlers to ensure their game was raised.

The tourists' batting overall was of the sort that implied it would be all right when the series proper began. Thus they needed to be bailed out by the late middle order, in which Ravi Bopara and Chris Woakes were prominently well-appointed. Both assessed the condition of the surface and the match and played accordingly, which is not a straightforward thing to do.

Bopara played with his recently discovered authority and there is reason at last to suppose that he may yet have a durable one-day career for England. He has taken his time to reach this stage since he has already played 64 ODIs, but suddenly looks as though he belongs.

His innings of 73, begun when England were 30 for 3, took only 82 balls yet contained only three fours and a six. For the rest, it was sharp placement and determined running.

Woakes, coming in at 124 for 6, saw the innings through with calm maturity, and if 219 all out was short of what they should have made, the pitch was contrary enough to give them the conviction that it was enough. So it proved, with Finn working up a head of steam at the start, made more of a handful by some uneven bounce, and Woakes striking twice in the middle of the innings as the HCA were beginning to settle to their task.

It was a typically solid exhibition from Woakes, who is only 22 but is a thoughtful cricketer of the type admired by this England management. What the total meant in effect was that England could not afford many errors in the field, and there were none. Two run-outs testified to their zeal.

It was the first time for the team under the new regulations for one-day international cricket, with a new ball used at each end at the start lasting the entire innings. The bowlers were clearly happier with this arrangement than the previous enforced change after 34 overs.

England have one more warm-up match, on Tuesday. They should enter the series next Friday in good heart, with reason to believe they can beat India on their own soil for the first time since 1985. It will not be easy, but if the batsmen really can peak at the right time it will be intriguingly close.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own