World Cricket Roundup: September 22nd, 2011

India vs. England; Sri Lanka vs. Australia; Champions League Twenty20 Qualifiers


India's abysmal tour of England came to an end with yet another loss, but this game was anything but abysmal. Batting first, India rallied around magnificent century from Virat Kohli, with Rahul Dravid making 69 in his final ODI appearance for India and Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashing 50* off just 26 balls. Finishing at 304/6, it seemed like India had finally done enough to leave England on a high.







Despite the early loss of Craig Kieswetter, Alastair Cook put the questions of his ODI temperament to rest with a quickfire 50, supported by a similarly brisk half-century by Jonathan Trott. But with England cruising, India nipped out two quick wickets to bring themselves back into the game. With the rain causing a Duckworth-Lewis recalculation, it fell to Ravi Bopara to yet again step up to the plate to put England ahead, but the man of the moment was debutante Jonny Bairstow, who mauled 41 runs off 21 balls to win a tricky game for England with time to spare. It completed the whitewash, as India failed to win any of their international games on the tour, and England send the world champions and former #1 Test team in the world packing.


Sri Lanka's best batting performance in their Test series against Australia was enough to save the game, but not the series itself. Michael Hussey continued to solidify his presence in the Team with scores of 118 and 93, while Shaun Marsh continued to make good on his promise and potential with 81. Sri Lanka's batting was much more composed and assured than it has been in the past, but on a flat Colombo track, there wasn't much in it for the bowlers of either team. Michael Clarke's first Test century as captain pushed the game into a draw, and Australia left Sri Lanka having won both the ODI and Test series. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, will have to trust that their new crop of bowlers will find their feet before too long.


The Champions League Twenty20 qualifiers weeded out two of the weaker teams before the tournament actually started. The Kolkata Knight Riders edged a close game against Auckland, who lost to Somerset and were eliminated. Trinidad & Tobago had no trouble seeing off Sri Lanka's Ruhuna and Leicestershire to qualify for the tournament proper. Ruhuna then beat Leicestershire, who were outright eliminated, but the close finish of the Somerset-Kolkata game meant that Ruhuna wouldn't qualify, either, as both of those teams made it through.


So if you're still with me, Trinidad & Tobago, Somerset and the Kolkata Knight Riders qualified for the Champions League Twenty20. I suppose it's good for the tournament that there's yet another IPL team in it (meaning, what, half the qualified teams are now Indian franchises), but with so much cricket being played and a lack of interest from Indian fans and sponsors, it's hard to get excited for what should, in theory, be a good experiment. 

India in England, ODI Series: 4th ODI

India's best performance is rained on, again


The tussle between two of the best sides in international cricket took a bizarre, complicated and controversial turn in the fourth ODI. India went into the game knowing that they couldn't win the ODI series, but desperately searching for a win to draw some blood. England had done all the right things to have the better of India across all three formats of the game, and knew that letting up on the pressure would damage their quest to be the best England team in history.






Winning the toss and putting India in to bat again, England kept Ajinkya Rahane and Parthiv Patel quiet, conceding only 14 runs by the 6th over. That was enough for Patel, who took James Anderson for 11 runs in the 7th over, including a 6 and a 4, to get things moving. Rahane joined in the fun, hitting Steven Finn for two boundaries in an over, then blasting him for 6, 4 and 4 later to propel India past 50 after a slow start. Stuart Broad ended the fun in his first over, trapping Rahane in front for 38 to break India's first wicket stand at 65/1. Broad struck again to remove Patel for 27, and both India's openers were gone at 70/2 in 16 overs.


Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid, in his penultimate ODI, took India over 100, but both fell to Graeme Swann in the England offspinner's first over. India in trouble after sliding from 109/2 to 110/4, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina - both in good runs of form - steadied the ship and carried India along. A 6 from Dhoni brought India's 150 up and signaled a counterattack from the Indian middle order. Raina and Dhoni took India to 192, before destroying James Anderson for 18 runs in an over, Dhoni with two boundaries and Raina with a 6 that took him to 50*. It also brought the 200 up, but there was more to come, with boundaries flowing from both bats as Dhoni also reached his half-century. 250 came up with a 6 and 4 from Dhoni, and even though Raina fell in the last over for a brilliant 84 (off just 75 balls), India finished on 280/5, a potent reminder of what they are capable of, despite having struggled all tour.


India made a good start in England's innings, RP Singh removing both openers cheaply to have England in early trouble at 27/2. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell counterattacked, but then Trott fell for 23, and India stayed ahead of England at 61/3. With no Kevin Pietersen or Eoin Morgan, it fell to Ravi Bopara and Bell to hold the chase together. That they did, taking England past 100 and staying up with the required run rate. Bell reached his 50* and Bopara did the same with a boundary that also took England over 150. But just as England seemed on course, Bell was well caught by Manoj Tiwary off Ravindra Jadeja to bring India back into the game at 159/4.


With clouds approaching the cloud, Ben Stokes hit a boundary, but was caught & bowled off the next ball by Ravi Ashwin, as England faltered at 169/5. Bopara and Tim Bresnan kept it together, with a bit of help from India, who conceded 6 vital overthrows to give England 15 runs in an over.  As the rain started to fall, Bresnan's cameo came to an end, bowled by RP Singh for a useful 27. England 220/6, with Stuart Broad uncertain because of an injury he picked up while bowling.


The rain caused frequent interruptions and delays, as players and umpires left the ground, only to return moments later as it seemed play could continue. Graeme Swann kept a cool head and swatted boundaries bringing the equation down to a run-a-ball. But with the threat of Duckworth-Lewis never far, Swann was run out going for a risky single, and Bopara fell the next ball trying to bat England ahead of the D-L equation. Bopara gone for a game-saving 96, and the heavens truly falling with his wicket. The calculations revealed that the wickets had pegged England back, and with seven deliveries left to go, England were on par with the Duckworth-Lewis score. The game was tied.


The second tie in five games between these two, the first being that utterly epic encounter in the World Cup. Absolute, sheer frustration for India, who batted brilliantly after being in trouble (again), and then did everything right to keep checking England's progress. But cheers to England, too, who fought tooth and nail all the way, and for Ravi Bopara, who admirably stepped up to the plate in the absence of Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan.


The tie means that India have no chance of drawing this series. The most they can hope for is a win in the final rubber. And even then, they have to hope that it doesn't rain.


India: 280/5 (Suresh Raina 84, Graeme Swann 9-1-49-2) in 50 overs, at 5.60 runs an over

England (target 271 runs from 48.5 overs): 270/8 (Ravi Bopara 96, RP Singh 9-0-53-3), at 5.52 runs an over

Match tied (via Duckworth-Lewis method)

England lead the five game series 2-0

Men of the Match: Suresh Raina and Ravi Bopara

Australia in Sri Lanka, 2nd Test: Day 4

A belated fightback from the hosts


Not much has gone right for Sri Lanka this Test series, with even tactical victories being tempered by the fact that Australia have easily taken the upper hand. This couldn't have been more evident than on the final session of play on Day 3, when Suraj Randiv's consecutive wickets didn't mask Australia's huge lead, which had significantly eclipsed Sri Lanka's meager first innings total. With Australian's poised for a declaration, it was only question of how much pain Michael Clarke wanted to inflict, before letting his bowlers take another shot at Sri Lanka.






As it turned out, not much: Clarke announced an overnight declaration, closing Australia's innings at 411/7 and setting a first innings lead of 237. Tharanga Paranavitana endured a nervy start before getting off the dreaded pair, then taking Ryan Harris for a consecutive boundaries to get Sri Lanka moving. Tillekerate Dilshan was not far behind, doing the same to Harris a couple of overs later. The 50* partnership came at good clip, Sri Lanka's first half-century stand for the series, which says a lot.


Dilshan mixed aggression with circumspect, a good move after his struggling form as of late, but Paranavitana survived a vociferous and controversial appeal for caught behind off Mitchell Johnson. Replays were inconclusive as to whether the batsman gloved the ball on the way to Brad Haddin, and Paranavitana continued on. He and Dilshan kept going, but the solid foundation was halted on the stroke of lunch, when Dilshan's aggressiveness condemned him and he was caught off Harris for 36. Still, better than his first innings score, and at 81/1, Sri Lanka weren't doing too badly, trailing by 156.


Paranavitana and Kumar Sangakkara took the score past 100 (for the loss of just one wicket, that makes a change). Paranavitana reached a calm half-century to give the innings some stability, but was caught behind off Australia's new secret weapon - Michael Hussey. It wasn't a clear dismissal, as Hussey didn't even appeal for the wicket at first. Replays were still inconsistent, but the third umpire saw and heard enough to send Paranavitana on his way for a useful 55, as Sri Lanka lost their second wicket at 128. To go with his 95 in the first game and 142 in this, Michael Hussey's bowling figures read 2-2-0-2.

With Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene at the crease, the drawbridge was raised and the portcullis dropped. The 150 came up before the tea break, with Sri Lanka at a comfortable (and more importantly, safe) 164/2 , trailing by just 73.


Sangakkara lead the way after the break, hitting the first ball of the session for 4. Mahela Jayawardene brought up the 50* stand, and Sangakkara reached his own half-century shortly afterwards with a boundary. Jayawardene was happy to play second fiddle, having scored 16* off 71 balls at that point, but denying Australia the easy inroads they had frequently found in Sri Lanka's previous at bats.


The 200 came up with no incident, and apart from Jaywardene skying a ball into no-man's land, there was no excitement for either team as stumps were called. At long last, Sri Lanka claimed a day for themselves in this series, finishing Day 4 at 223/2, trailing by just 14 runs with 8 wickets left.


I'd like to say that defeat has obviously been avoided, but this is a team that slumped to 82 all out not too long ago. That said, Sangakkara and Jayawardene are looking as solid as they normally should, Sri Lanka finally bringing their batting credentials to the table. Winning is almost certainly out of the question, and all that's left for Sri Lanka to do is bat out the draw, and regroup and consolidate for the final Test in Colombo to try and square the series.


There wasn't much for Australia to do today, other than plug away and keep Sri Lanka quiet. Mission accomplished, for all intents and purposes. They may not have run through the Sri Lankans like they've done in this game and the last, but Michael Clarke's men have done enough to ensure that they can't lose this Test - and, by that token, this series.


Day 4: Sri Lanka 223/2 (Kumar Sangakkara 69*, Michael Hussey 4-2-2-1)

trail Australia 411/7 declared (Michael Hussey 142, Suraj Randiv 43-7-103-3)

by 14 runs with 8 wickets left







Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 2nd Test: Day 3

A satisfied Marsh


Shaun Marsh went to bed a happy man, having scored an unbeaten 87* on Test debut, and playing a big role in his team sealing their dominance over a misfiring Sri Lanka. With Australia leading by 90 runs with still 7 wickets left, Day 3 was set to be another long slog for the new-look Sri Lankan bowling attack, which was, yet again, let down by its batsman. Even though Australia's top order stuttered, Marsh and Michael Hussey had no trouble guiding the visitors to a position of dominance only two days into the game.





Marsh continued here he left off, hitting the first ball of the day for a boundary to move into the 90s. Hussey joined him shortly afterwards, and both Australians reached their Test centuries in the same over - Hussey's 14th ton and Marsh's first, proudly watched by his dad and former Australian batsman Geoff. With Hussey's century, Australia also moved past 300, with the partnership itself worth more than Sri Lanka's first innings total of 174.


Marsh was content to enjoy his century, but Hussey  was more aggressive, bringing up the 200 stand with a series of boundaries off everything the Sri Lankans threw at him. The two broke the record for highest partnership for Australians in Sri Lanka, and it took the part-time spin of Thilan Samaraweera to finally break the stand. He had Hussey caught for a indomitable 142, after Hussey and Marsh had put on a massive 258 together. Australia 374/4, with four more runs added to the total before the lunch break.


Marsh continued well after the resumption, moving past his father's highest Test score. But that was as good as it got for the debutante, falling to Suranga Lakmal for a brilliant 141 in his first Test at bat. Australia 391/5, Sri Lanka exercising some modicum of damage control. It (finally) got better for the hosts in the next over, as Suraj Randiv continued Brad Haddin's struggle for form, having him caught for 1, and then bowled Mitchell Johnson the very next ball for a duck. Randiv on a hat-trick, but it was not to be. Still, some measure of revenge for Sri Lanka, as they clawed back from 374/3 to halt Australia's progress at 392/7.


Ryan Harris and Usman Khwaja fought back to carry Australia over 400, but rain and bad light halted play shortly after. With no resumption in sight, stumps were called with Australia at 411/7, leading by 237 with 3 wickets left.


Sri Lanka have had two good passages of play in this game - when they took 3/56 at the top of the Australian innings, and when they took 4/18 later on. Note that neither of those two good passages of play came from Sri Lanka's batting. Note also that there was an absolute mountain of runs between those  two passages, meaning that Sri Lanka will have a long, hard graft for them whenever it is their turn to bat again.


Three cheers for Shaun Marsh, who greatly impressed on Test debut. Sure, he was facing a depleted and deflated bowling attack, but it says a lot when your first Test ton is a biggie, and came in foreign conditions. It bodes well for an Australia still searching for their next set of heroes.


I wonder how Sri Lanka felt when the newbie made 81% of their first innings total.


Day 3: Australia 411/7 (Michael Hussey 142, Suraj Randiv 43-7-103-3

lead Sri Lanka 174 all out

by 90 runs with 7 wickets remaining


Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 2nd Test: Day 2

Sri Lanka fight, but Australia ascend again


Sri Lanka's struggle to assert any dominance in this series continued in the second Test, as they were shot out for 174 and watched Australia easily move to 60/0 by stumps on Day 1. Phil Hughes was looking comfortable at 23*, while Shane Watson was as solid as ever on 36*. With no Ajantha Mendis to turn to, even the absence of Ricky Ponting in this game wouldn't be enough to give the Sri Lankans any opening to try and claw their way back.





But everyone was in for surprise, as Watson fell in the second over of the day, bowled by Suranga Lakmal without adding to his overnight score. The Australians went slowly, partly due Test debutante Shaun Marsh finding his feet, but also due to Sri Lanka having their tails up for the first time in a long time. Hughes was the next to go, falling to Suraj Randiv for a patient 36, but at 97/2, Australia were behind by only 77.


Marsh and Michael Clarke took Australia past 100, but Chanaka Welegedera struck to remove the Australian captain for just 13, and 116/3, Sri Lanka were sniffing a chance of evening the playing field. Marsh and Michael Hussey ensured no further losses for Australia as the teams went to lunch with the visitors 132/3.


The runs started to flow after the break, with an over for Tillekeratne Dilshan conceding three boundaries. The 150 came and went, with Hussey surviving a close run out chance while on 39*. But Australia marched on, with Shaun Marsh putting his team into the lead with a boundary.


He was feeling good enough to hit Seekkuge Prasanna for three boundaries in an over, two of them consecutive, with the second of them bringing up his half-century on Test debut. The 200 came up easily enough, Sri Lanka's hard fought, but brief, comeback a fading speck in the rear-view mirror by now. Hussey took a while to reach his own 50*, but got there with a smashed boundary. The 100 partnership came up shortly after, as the relentless run accumulation continued. Tillekeratne Dilshan threw everything he could think of at the Australian pair, including Kumar Sangakkara with the new ball, but there was to be no karmic revenge for Sangakkara or Sri Lanka. At the tea break, Australia were standing tall at 251/3.


But only four and a half overs of play were possible in the final session, as bad light brought Day 2 to a premature end. Sri Lanka were glad for a cessation of hostilities, while Shaun Marsh was stranded an unlucky 13 runs away from what would be a Test century on debut. No other complaints from Australia, as they went to stumps on 264/3, leading by 90 runs with still 7 wickets in hand.


Apart from the early passage of play, when Sri Lanka took three big Australian wickets for 56 runs, this was all one-way traffic. Youth and experience combined well to ensure that despite Ricky Ponting being in Australia for the birth of his second child, he was not badly missed.


For Sri Lanka, more of the same - probably made a little worse by the fact that they did fight back, however briefly, before Marsh and Hussey started piling on runs after runs. The lead is only 90, and if the Lankans can start Day 3 well, like they did on Day 2, then we may have a game, and a series on our hands.


If they don't, then Tillekeratne Dilshan's tenure as captain might be a short one.


Day 2: Australia 264/3 (Shaun Marsh 87*, Suranga Lakmal 14-2-60-1)

lead Sri Lanka 174 all out

by 90 runs with 7 wickets remaining

India in England, ODI Series: 3rd ODI

When even the rain gods are against you


Since the first match of India's ODI series against England was washed out, it came down to this game. Having lost the first actual encounter, India would need to win the second and third to win the series and leave England with something to smile about. If they lost any of those games, then the 4-game series would be tied, and the World Cup winners and erstwhile #1 Test team in the world would leave England with precious little to show for their accomplishments.





When Alastair Cook won the toss and chose to field, it looked like another chance for Ajinkya Rahane to impress in his first international series. But one of India's few bright spots perished off the fourth ball of the game, tentatively edging James Anderson to slip, and India had lost their first wicket with just a run scored. Anderson and Tim Bresnan choked India's scoring, and things got worse for the tourists when Rahul Dravid was run out for just 2. Anderson bowled Parthiv Patel (10/3) to completely wreck India's top order. Suresh Raina struck India' first boundary in the 9th over, but Virat Kohli gifted his wicket to become Anderson's third victim; and with four batsmen down for just 25, India's mission to save the game - and the series - was all but lost.


Under enormous pressure, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Raina set about salvaging the innings. Raina attacked to take India's score past 50, but threw his wicket away to Stuart Broad for 21, and India's recovery was checked at 58/5. It fell to Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja to try and pull something together, which did for the next 25 overs. While England kept a tight leash on them, Jadeja and Dhoni took the score over 100. They gradually grew in confidence, with the Indian captain leading from the front with a valuable 50*, as India steadily moved past 150.


Jadeja reached his own half-century, but Dhoni fell shortly after, to Tim Bresnan for a game-saving 69. With Ravi Ashwin joining Jadeja at the crease, the two launched an astonishing counterattack on England's bowlers. First, Jade Dernbach went for 4, 0, 4, 3, 4, 4 to boost India from 174/6 to 193/6. Hitting from Ashwin took India over 200, and then it was Anderson's turn to suffer: 1, 4, 4, 2, 1, 4. India scored 51/1 in the final PowerPlay. Even when Jadeja went in the final over for a valiant 78, it was Ashwin who led India's way, with an unbeaten 36* off just 19 balls, as the tourists finished on a decent 234/7.


England started solidly, with Alastair Cook content to rotate the strike and let Craig Kieswetter do the big hitting, two 6s off Praveen Kumar. Cook didn't miss out, taking Munaf Patel for consecutive boundaries; but Patel struck back to remove Cook for 23 (after being hit for another Kieswetter maximum). England already 63/1 after 10 overs, with the chase well in hand by that point.


Kieswetter survived a return chance off Patel and went on to make his 50, but fell to Ravindra Jadeja to keep India in the game. Jonathan Trott went the next over to make it 89/3. With the game evenly poised, the rains came down - for the third time in three games - to reduce England's target to 218 in 43 overs. Ian Bell and newbie Ben Stokes put England ahead of the required run rate, but Bell fell to a brilliant piece of fielding by Dhoni behind the stumps, retrieving the ball from the leg side to run the England batsman out for 23. Stokes went the next over to put India right back in the game, with England 133/5.


Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara fought back, keeping up with the required rate; but with the equation slightly under a run a ball needed, Bresnan was gone for 20. 25 runs needed off 24 balls, and Bopara held his nerve to take England over 200. But after putting England in front, he was gone for a well-made 40 to leave England needing 10 from 13 with three wickets left. That was enough for Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad to finish the game, winning by three wickets and going 2-0 up in the series.


Consider this: from the doldrums of 58/5, India recovered to post 234/7, a healthy score and an amazing recovery, one worthy of victory... except on this tour, when nothing India does will give them an elusive win. With a series victory now impossible, the most India can hope for is to try and find at least one measly win in their remaining two games to give their fans something to cheer about.


And consider this: England have mightily delivered on their promises of being a world class team under Andy Flower's coaching. There's no better way of sealing the deal by shutting India out. Can India pull it together for at least one win? Or have the World Cup winners lost their spirit?


India: 234/7 (Ravindra Jadeja 78, James Anderson 9-1-48-3) in 50 overs, at 4.68 runs an over

England (target 218 runs from 43 overs): 218/7 (Craig Kieswettter 51, Ravi Ashwin 9-0-40-3) in 41.5 overs, at 5.21 runs an over

England win by 7 wickets and lead the four-game series 2-0

Man of the Match: Ravindra Jadeja



Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 2nd Test: Day 1

Sri Lanka's fortress falls again


Since making it to the World Cup finals back in April, things haven't gone easily for Sri Lanka. There was a controversial leadership shakeup, two legendary players retired, and the team lost both the Test and ODI series in England. Facing Australia (even a young, transitional Australia) is never easy, and the home advantage proved fleeting for the Sri Lankans, as they lost the ODI series and the first Test to the visiting Aussies. Much was needed for Sri Lanka to prevent yet another series slipping away.





Things went right with the toss, Tillekeratne Dilshan making the right call and choosing to bat. But with only one run on the board, Tharanga Paranavitana loosely feathered an edge to Brad Haddin off Ryan Harris without scoring. 1/1 became 10/1 as Dilshan shouldered arms to Trent Copeland and was bowled for just 4. Mahela Jayawardene scored a magnificent century in defeat in the last Test, but became Copeland's second victim for just 4. Sri Lanka in dire straits at 14/3.


As he has done so many times in the past, Kumar Sangakkara played the anchor role, pulling Sri Lanka forward and hitting two boundaries to take the total over 50. Thilan Samaraweera kept him company, but his 17 was nothing more than a short cameo, ended by a brilliant delivery from Ryan Harris. 57/4, and Prasanna Jayawardene briefly raised the chance of a fightback. He attacked Nathan Lyon in Lyon's first over, taking him for 6, 2 and 4, before throwing it away for an ill-advised slog sweep. Sri Lanka stumbled into lunch with half their side gone for just 76.


Sangakkara and Mathews crafted a partnership after the interval, gradually growing in confidence and taking Sri Lanka past 100. Michael Clarke felt comfortable enough to bring Mike Hussey into the attack, and the surprise move reaped a huge, and immediate reward, when Hussey had Sangakkara tamely caught for an important 48. The big gun finally gone with Sri Lanka 128/6, the door was open for Australia to push through. Suraj Randiv didn't last long, and only Angelo Mathews continuing to prove his caliber kept things interesting for the home team.


Seekkuge Prasanna fell in the last over for tea, and Sri Lanka only had two batsmen left by the final session of Day 1. Mathews brought up his 50 with his third 6, but was caught behind off Mitchell Johnson for the innings' highest score, 58. 166/9, and Johnson had the honor of taking the final wicket to bowl Sri Lanka out for a measly 174.


Shane Watson got Australia's first innings off to a good start with a brace of boundaries in the second over, and by the third over, Australia were already 20/0. Phil Hughes was content to play second fiddle to Watson, who found the ropes with ease. The 50 stand for the first wicket came as early as the 13th over, and it was only deteriorating light which ended Australia's day at 60/0.


Another weak-as-water batting performance from Sri Lanka, on a day when a specialist batsman could take a big wicket and end a threatening partnership. Michael Hussey may never bowl in an international game ever again, and these figures of 1-1-0-1 will be his proudest.


It's going to be another long game for the Sri Lankans. If there's any consolation, their fellow World Cup finalists India know exactly how they feel.


Day 1: Sri Lanka 174 all out (Angelo Mathews 58, Ryan Harris 16-7-38-3) 

lead Australia 60/0 (Shane Watson 36*, Seekkuge Prasanna 6.4-1-18-0)

by 114 runs 



India in England, ODI Series: 2nd ODI

What will it take for India to beat England?


As though India's tour of England couldn't get any worse, Sachin Tendulkar was ruled out of the rest of the ODI series with a recurrence of his foot injury. Surprisingly, England also had a contribution to the injury list, with Eoin Morgan's shoulder problem forcing him to the sidelines. With Kevin Pietersen not playing this series, and Craig Kieswetter struggling, would this mean that India had their best chance of beating England?






They had to wait to find out, though, as persistent rain delayed the game until there was only time to play a 23-overs-a-side slog. Parthiv Patel got the message, flaying Tim Bresnan's first two overs for 26 runs (16 of them coming in Bresnan's second). James Anderson put the brakes on, having Patel caught behind for a whirlwind 28, even though there was a margin of uncertainty as to whether the batsman made contact with the ball. Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane briefly consolidated before forcing the pace, taking India past 100 at a good clip. Dravid departed for a quick and useful 32, caught off Graeme Swann, but Rahane went on to make his first ODI fifty, continuing his hugely impressive arrival to international cricket.


Virat Kohli made only 9, but while Suresh Raina took the attack to England, Rahane departed for 54 to become Graeme Swann's second wicket. Raina took Jade Dernbach for 16 in an over to keep India moving, even hitting Tim Bresnan for 6 the ball after Bresnan removed Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Bresnan had his revenge, removing Raina in the last over of the innings for a blistering 40 off 19 balls (s/r 210.52). 182/5 became 187/8, as both Manoj Tiwary and Ravi Ashwin fell trying to edge India closer to 200. As it was, they had to settle for 187, with England having done well to rein them in after a good top order effort.


Needing 8.17 an over from their 23 overs, England got off to a good start with Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter blasting England to 56/0 in only 6 overs. The England wicketkeeper eventually departed for a rapid 46, but he had helped bring the run rate down to 7.23 by the time he was dismissed, with England at 67/1. Ian Bell and Cook kept the runs flowing, with none of India's bowlers able to exert any control or pressure over the scoring.


The 100 came up in only the 10th over, and even when Ravi Ashwin made the breakthrough (getting Bell for a fast 25), Cook and Ravi Bopara kept England on course. The ODI captain reached his 50* off just 34 balls, and even when Bopara went for 24, the required run rate was already below 6.00 an over. With plenty of time and plenty of wickets in hand, England cantered to an easy victory, going 1-0 in the truncated series.


I think I've said it before, but India must be wondering what they have to do to win a game. They had a great chance in the first ODI before it was washed out, and despite a good batting effort in this game, their bowlers never stood a chance against a confident and positive England outfit.


Ajinkya Rahane seems to be India's sole bright spot from an otherwise painful tour, scoring useful runs in his last three international innings. The fact that India have won neither of those games tells the story.


Craig Kieswetter's place might have been in jeopardy before this game, but he earned himself a reprieve with an innings that took the wind out of India's bowlers. Cook's 80* (off just 63 balls) should solidify his credentials as an ODI opener, although England surely benefitted from an Indian attack low on confidence, in foreign conditions, and missing key players.


It's no fun being World Cup winners and former #1 Test team.


India: 187/8 (Ajinkya Rahane 54, Graeme Swann 5-0-33-3) in 23 overs, at 8.13 runs an over

England: 188/3 (Alastair Cook 80*, Ravi Ashwin 5-0-42-2) in 22.1 overs, at 8.48 runs an over

England win by 7 wickets and lead the 5-game series 1-0

Man of the Match: Alastair Cook

India in England ODI Series: 1st ODI

So close....


After being bossed around in the Tests and losing the only Twenty20 game, India might have breathed a sigh of relief when it came to the 50-over games. They are the reigning World Champions in this format, after all, and England are only gradually turning their seemingly invincible Test form into similar ODI results. But India's preparations for the first ODI took a major blow, as Sachin Tendulkar was ruled out of the game with an injury, meaning the wait for his 100th international century will continue, and India - already struggling with injuries up and down their batting lineup - were forced into their backup plans before the series even started.





Put into bat under cloud cover, India's new opening combination of Parthiv Patel and ODI debutante Ajinkya Rahane, coming off a strong showing in the Twenty20, started cautiously. They accelerated towards the end of the first mandatory Powerplay, reaching 43/0 by the first 10 overs. Rahane continued to impress, sinking his teeth into Stuart Broad for four quick boundaries . Patel wasn't far behind, taking James Anderson for consecutive boundaries, but with the run rate over 5.00 an over, Rahane was the first to go, falling to Broad. He departed for 40, ending India's best opening stand of the tour at 82/1.


Rahul Dravid was the next man in, playing in his final ODI series, but he made only 2 before being caught behind off Broad. Replays suggested there had been no contact between bat and ball, but controversies or not, the two quick wickets slowed India's momentum. Patel reached his half-century as he and Virat Kohli slowly distanced themselves from Dravid's wicket. The 150 came up with India's run rate moving back up to 5.00. The 100 partnership came up, and Patel moved to 95 before falling short of what would have been his first ODI century, caught behind off James Anderson. A vital stand snapped at 190/3, but India still in the driver's seat. England struck again, this time with Stuart Broad forcing Rohit Sharma to retire hurt with a fractured finger off the first ball he faced. India effectively 190/4, and Kohli was bowled by Samit Patel after reaching his half-century, with India 206/4.


But Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni dug deep and ensured England wouldn't press home their advantage. Quick runs were biffed as India passed 250, and even though Raina fell for a speedy 38, his job was done. Tim Bresnan pulled things back for England a bit with two consecutive wickets (including that of Dhoni for 33), but India's 274/7 was easily one of their best batting efforts this whole tour.


Alastair Cook started things well for England with a boundary off the first ball of the innings, but Praveen Kumar removed him for just 4. England in early trouble at 6/1, and despite Jonathan Trott sticking it to Vinay Kumar for two boundaries, it was Praveen who struck again, removing Craig Kieswetter for only 6. Now it was England's turn to be in trouble, at 20/2, but before they could fight back, or India could press home their advantage, the heavens opened and washed out play for the rest of the game. Match abandoned, no result.


Frustrating beyond belief, especially for India, who, for the first time in a very long time, seemed to be in a position of control. More troubling is that they have to deal with another injury, this one to Rohit Sharma. That said, Parthiv Patel's form and Ajinkya Rahane's good debuts have given the beleaguered World Champions something from which to take heart. 


England, on the other hand, will be relieved that their ODI series didn't get off to a potentially bad start. You don't want to be 20/2 chasing 275, especially when Kevin Pietersen is, for some inexplicable reason, "rested". The washout gives England valuable time to regroup and figure out how and why they went wrong in this game, while India will wonder what it will take to save their players from injury, let alone what it'll take to win a game.


India: 274/7 (Parthiv Patel 95, Tim Bresnan 10-0-54-2) in 50 overs, at 5.48 runs an over

England: 27/2 (Jonathan Trott 14*, Praveen Kumar 4-1-11-2) in 7.2 overs, at 3.68 runs an over

Match abandoned due to rain; no result



Australia in Sri Lanka Test Series, 1st Test: Day 4

Australia easily winning Test matches? This sounds familiar


Much like their Cardiff Test against England, an otherwise-solid Sri Lankan performance was undone by one innings of bad batting. They'd done well to restrict Australia to 273 and 210, but then succumbing to 103 all out and conceding a 168-run lead in the process undid any chance Sri Lanka might have had of saving the first Test. With their last established pair at the crease, it all depended on for how much longer Angelo Mathews and Mahela Jayawardene could hold out before inevitability took over.






Resuming play on Day 4 at 120/5, the Sri Lankan batsmen kept one eye on the Australian bowlers, one eye on the fading pitch and another on the approaching clouds. Only three overs of cricket were possible before the rains came, offering a brief hope of a draw resulting from time lost. But out the players came again, with Jayawardene settling into an early groove. Mathews joined in on the fun, taking Mitchell Johnson for consecutive 4s to bring up his half-century. It was Jayawardene who took control of proceedings, hitting Nathan Lyon for 6, bringing up the 100 partnership and taking Lyon for two boundaries later. Sri Lanka went to lunch on the relatively stable position of 185/5. Still light years away from winning, miles away from saving the game, but at least, for them, Mathews and Jayawardene were looking good.


Jayawardene reached his 29th Test century with a boundary after the break, the only man to score a ton in this game. But he played onto his stumps off Ryan Harris, ending a superb knock for just 105 when many more were required. Sri Lanka 209/6, with the vital 142-run partnership between Jayawardene and Mathews finally coming to an end. Suraj Randiv didn't last long, and the only question remaining was whether Mathews would be able to go better than his previous best Test score of 99, which also came in a losing cause (that against India).


Rangana Herath played a decent hand before falling for 12, but the deal was sealed when Shane Watson bowled Mathews for 95 - the second time Mathews has fallen in the 90s, with his first Test century proving as elusive as Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international century. 249/9, and only a matter of time until the final wicket fell. Nathan Lyon had the honor of taking it, dismissing Suranga Lakmal, as Australia stormed to victory by 125 runs.


Anybody remember the last time Sri Lanka won a Test match? No, neither do I. Good start for Michael Clarke as Australia's full-time Test captain. Better skippers than him have come and gone without winning a Test in Sri Lanka, but he was helped by a brittle batting lineup giving way to some impressive and inspiring debutantes. Nathan Lyon won't soon forget this game - six wickets on debut - and neither will Ricky Ponting, who celebrates his 100th Test win, a record that probably won't be bettered any time soon.


While Ponting flies home to attend the birth of his second child, Sri Lanka have a lot of searching to do. Should they have gone with Ajantha Mendis, who still struggles to maintain his consistency? How and why did the batting repeatedly fall apart? And will they go the way of New Zealand, who, after the retirement of Sir Richard Hadlee, gradually declined in Test quality? Tough questions to be asked for a tough series.


Day 4: Sri Lanka 253 all out (Mahela Jayawardene 105, Ryan Harris 20-5-62-5)

lose to Australia by 125 runs

Man of the Match: Michael Hussey