And win quite comfortably, in fact. It’s the first time they have beaten England since the first test of the 2008 series, way back in the KP/Moores era. It’s the first time they’ve beaten anyone since beating the West Indies before the England tour.
I think, however, that England played poorly more than India played well. England’s bowling and fielding were sloppy throughout the innings. They bowled eighteen wides and had a fair number of overthrows and misfields. Despite this, when Kohli was caught in the 29th over it made the score only 123-4. For almost thirty overs England kept India under five runs an over, but when Raina came to the crease and India took the batting powerplay England’s defiance slipped away like a shady character in a film. England haemorrhaged 174 runs in the last twenty overs of the match and went from being in a strong position to needing 301 to win. Dhoni got Man of the Match for his 87 not out off 70 balls, but I thought Raina’s innings may have been more important. Raina came in with India under a lot of pressure and responded by scoring 61 off 55. By the time he holed out the floodgates were open and Dhoni could play with the sort of abandon we saw him employ so well after top order collapses during the test series.
As bad as England’s collapse with the ball was, the collapse with the bat was almost worse. England lost Kieswetter and Pietersen in the powerplay, (for 7 and 19 respectively) but still came out a reasonable 48-2. With Cook and Trott at the crease they had the men they needed to set a platform and set about doing so. Cook brought up a run a ball fifty, whilst Trott played more circumspectly (as he is wont to do). England had recovered to 111-2 when Cook suffered a rush of blood and holed out against the spinner Jadeja for 60 off 63. Two overs later Trott tried an ugly sweep off the same bowler and was bowled. This left England in almost the same position in which India had been at 120-4 in the 25th over. Unlike India, the subsequent attempt to counterattack and loosen the shackles just resulted in Bopara and Bairstow departing in successive overs (a total of four wickets in five overs). Both went to fairly careless shots, attempting to drive a spinner, mistiming it and presenting a simple return chance. The tail never really stood a chance of rescuing England, though only Swann lost his wicket in a manner that could not be described as ‘brainless’. England were bowled out for 174 with eight of their batsmen giving their wickets away.
The only consolation for England is that we know they can play better, and it reasonable to think that in the next match they will. If they had played better today they would have had a good chance of winning and it certainly would have been close. Unfortunately for England, now India have their confidence properly restored and will likely play better themselves. I think it will be a better series from here, but I also think that England may have blown any chance they had of winning it.