Raina dashes England's hopes

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Teenager Suresh Raina sent England 2-0 down in the one-day series as India won by four wickets at the Nahar Singh Stadium.

Left-hander Raina, 19, crafted his maiden international half-century to grab the initiative in an evenly-poised contest and carry India to their 227-run target with six balls to spare.

He paced the pursuit perfectly alongside Mahendra Dhoni (38), dominating their 118-run stand for the sixth wicket to finish unbeaten on 81.

When they came together England's bid to level things appeared on course, after five mid-innings wickets for 31 runs had reduced India to 92 for five.

Raina, like England's Kevin Pietersen before him, made the most of his fortune after being dropped by James Anderson - the ball bobbled out of his grasp as he crashed to the ground in his follow-through - on 18.

Despite openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir racing beyond 50 in the first 10 overs, as in England's innings run-scoring proved difficult once the new ball became worn.

Left-arm spinner Ian Blackwell made the initial inroad when Sehwag dragged an attempted paddle into leg-stump.

Left-hander Gambhir got himself in a tangle to a short ball from Anderson to sky a return catch.

Then the panic set in as a farcical run-out led to home captain Rahul Dravid departing.

A leg-side delivery from Liam Plunkett flicked the pad on the way to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones, whose throw hit the off-stump; Dravid thought about stealing a run - but as he shuffled forward, Paul Collingwood hurtled in to pick up the ball and demolish the stumps.

Television replays showed Dravid was short of his ground, and the stunned silence became a feature of the next couple of overs as Plunkett trapped Mohammad Kaif lbw.

When Blackwell defeated Yuvraj Singh's attempts to cut all the momentum was with with the tourists.

But England went wicketless for 21 overs until captain Andrew Flintoff unpicked Dhoni with a slower ball.

A typically calculated Pietersen assault, worth 71, had earlier helped England to their respectable total.

He took advantage of being dropped on three to slowly accumulate his runs before a late explosion saw him equal Viv Richards' record of 21 innings to break the 1,000 barrier in one-day internationals.

The difficulty in forcing the ball away was emphasised by the fact Pietersen took 64 deliveries to strike his first boundary - a sweep off left-arm spinner Yuvraj - and the first for the team for 19 overs.

Two more followed in one over off part-time bowler Gambhir, one of five spinners employed by India, as he reached his half-century off 73 balls.

Twice Pietersen cleared the ropes as the charge gathered momentum - but he succumbed immediately after the second six, with a chip to midwicket off Yuvraj.

He shared 64 for the third wicket with Andrew Strauss as England made the most of Indian profligacy.

Opener Strauss survived an unbelievable dropped catch from Ramesh Powar to reach his landmark from 72 balls, after England had opted to bat first.

Off-spinner Powar somehow failed to hold a spooned return chance which reached him at ankle height with Strauss on 27.

India then inexplicably gifted Pietersen a life when his loft to long-on, off Powar, was misjudged by the diving Raina.

Openers Strauss and Matt Prior put on 66 for the first wicket on a dry surface.

Their stand came to its conclusion when, immediately after Dravid plumped for the second powerplay, Harbhajan Singh - man-of-the-match in Tuesday's first one-dayer - broke through with a delivery which spun back sharply to trap Prior lbw.

Powar claimed three wickets in all - Owais Shah caught off an inside edge which bobbled into the air off pad, and Strauss and Flintoff both dismissed advancing down the pitch.

With wickets in hand, England attempted to accelerate in the final 10 overs - but it was a period in which they lost their final six wickets, beginning with that of Pietersen, for 52 runs.

Comments