ODI Tri-Series: England’s Finn Anderson push India towards early exit

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January 20, 2015

Brief Scorecard: England 1 for 156 (Bell 88*, Taylor 56*) beat India 153 (Binny 44, Finn 5-33, Anderson 4-18) by 9 wickets

January 20, 2015

Brief Scorecard: England 1 for 156 (Bell 88*, Taylor 56*) beat India 153 (Binny 44, Finn 5-33, Anderson 4-18) by 9 wickets

Bell produced some of the most pleasing strokes, his driving and cutting particularly delightful as India’s bowlers struggled to make any impression.

Brisbane, AUSTRALIA – Exposed by swing in Melbourne. Opened up by bounce in Brisbane. That has been the story of the Indian top order thus far in the triangular series.

If it was Mitchell Starc who feasted on India’s shortcomings against the moving delivery two days back at the MCG, then it was the turn of Steven Finn to run riot at the Gabba on Tuesday (January 20). James Anderson, on his return to international cricket after four-and-a-half months, consigned Shikhar Dhawan to another cheap dismissal after Mahendra Singh Dhoni opted to bat for a second successive time, then exited stage left to allow Finn to stamp his authority on his way to a maiden five-for in One-Day International cricket.

India had been dealt a body blow even before the toss with Rohit Sharma, the centurion from the loss to Australia, ruled out with soreness in his right hamstring for the clash between hitherto winless sides. It necessitated Ajinkya Rahane to move up to the top of the tree and facilitated Ambati Rayudu’s inclusion, at No. 3. These were the only two among the top five to show any fight, even if Rayudu laboured to rotate the strike.

Otherwise, it was a sorry procession as India didn’t even give the predicted thunderstorm a chance to make an appearance, being shot out inside 40 overs for a measly 153, and that thanks mainly to an enterprising 44 from Stuart Binny, brought into the playing XI ahead of R Ashwin.

In front of empty stands – fewer than 9000 people turned up at the Gabba – England were untroubled in their modest chase, even after Moeen Ali perished early in the piece to Binny, given the new ball and an extended bowl in a match situation with the larger picture in mind. Ian Bell continued his excellent vein of recent form while James Taylor overcame an uncertain start to play some spanking strokes of his own. Victory was a mere formality, the bonus point equally so, and both were attained with minimum fuss.

Bell produced some of the most pleasing strokes of the truncated day, his driving and cutting particularly delightful as India’s bowlers struggled to make any impression on the same track from which England’s admittedly taller bowlers had extracted such appreciable purchase. Easily the more graceful and authoritative of the two right-hand batsmen, who both made half-centuries and stitched together 131 for the second wicket, Bell carried England to 156 for 1 and a most comprehensive nine-wicket win with a massive 135 deliveries still at their disposal.

India’s lowest score against England while being bowled out – they did make 132 for 3 in 60 overs in the 1975 World Cup, their lowest in a completed innings – wasn’t so much due to the fact that they found the bounce impossible to handle as their inability to work the singles and keep the board moving. They were thus forced to manufacture strokes against the discipline and intelligence of the England pace attack. Rayudu, in particular, found it extremely difficult to find large gaps that will inevitably present themselves when the opposition attacks with three slips, and as Rayudu’s bridge between balls faced and runs scored widened, Rahane was forced to improvise to ensure that India had something to show for occupation of the crease.

Well as Finn bowled, he will be the first to admit that he benefitted from the rut India had batted themselves into. In saying that, with his steepling bounce and nagging accuracy, he ripped the heart out of the Indian batting with Jos Buttler behind the stumps a wonderful accomplice.

There will now have to be some serious soul-searching within the Indian ranks, and Dhoni will probably revisit what to do on winning the toss, but that is for another day. Tuesday was about waving the white flag even before the opposition was readying for battle, a calamitous outing most likely to extend India’s winless streak on this long tour of Australia.

Dhawan’s inability to counter even the slightest hint of swing meant he fell to the first ball he received from Anderson, which shaped away just a little bit, but enough to catch the outside edge. The dismissal extended Dhawan’s miserable run in Australia, and will add further weight to calls for him to be axed from the side.

Anderson showed no ill effects of the knee injury that kept him out for so long, bowling a typically probing six-over first spell and reaping the rewards right at the end, but for once, he wasn’t so much the main threat that Finn was.

The tallest of the England bowlers thrived on the purchase he received from the Gabba surface. Finn’s natural length is just short, and he made scoring difficult for India’s batsmen by falling into excellent rhythm straightaway after being brought on in the 13th over. Until that period, Rahane and Rayudu had tided over the probing phase through plenty of pluck and a little bit of luck, but were just beginning to tick over when Rahane charged Finn and tried to clear the infield, only for Taylor to run back from mid-on and complete a smart catch.

That catalysed an extraordinary passage of play in which India lost four wickets for ten runs in 28 deliveries. Virat Kohli tried to glide Finn over the slips, was defeated by the extra bounce and was smartly taken by Buttler, and Rayudu fell in similar fashion after a scratchy 23. In between, Suresh Raina charged Moeen’s second ball of the match, a ball that dipped on the batsman, turned and bounced to set up a simple stumping. That was really that from the Indian point of view.

All Dhoni and Binny could do was bat as long as possible without taking any undue chances. Binny’s selection had been brought about both because of the nature of the surface and, perhaps also because India felt the need for greater firepower lower down the order. The Karnataka allrounder did not disappoint, even if the big strokes had to be put away for long periods because of the gravity of the situation.

Gradually, Dhoni and Binny rebuilt and midway through the 70-run stand, the less experienced man began to call the shots, striking the ball with the cleanness that keen followers of domestic cricket must be used to. India again took the batting Power Play one over ahead of schedule, but again found little joy even though Anderson put down Dhoni on his follow through.

Dhoni had begun his knock brightly but went off the boil deeper into his innings. He became the third victim of the Buttler-Finn combination, feathering a slower bouncer through, and India then rolled over without a fight even as the batting Power Play put an emphatic brake on the scoring. Axar Patel was dismissed first ball on his 21st birthday, Bhuvneshwar Kumar was bowled playing down the wrong line to Anderson, and Binny and Mohammed Shami fell to excellent catches by Eoin Morgan and Moeen respectively. It was all over far too quickly: 4 for 10 in the middle, 5 for 16 at the end. Simply not good enough, with the prospect of early elimination all too genuine now.


Courtesy: Wisden India