It’s a do-or-die match for India and Dhoni won the toss and opted to chase. Interesting that Dhoni almost knew that he was going to win the toss. Not that he can be faulted. It feels like he wins about 90% of the tosses that he’s participated in! Anyhow, he decided to go in with Jadeja to bolster the chase. It would have been interesting what he would have said had England won the toss and opted to field first.
Anyhow, India changed their line-up to bring in RP Singh for Irfan Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja for Pragyan Ojha. My initial thoughts on this line-up was not too positive. Jadeja had not impressed in the warm-up match against New Zealand and Irfan had been our most accurate bowler in the loss against West Indies, as I had pointed out earlier. Definitely Ishant should have been the one to go, but it appears that he retained his spot simply for being a right-armer, since evidently Praveen Kumar (PK) is not good enough (although he averages <30 in ODI’s, if I remember correctly).
India struck really early with RP removing Luke Wright in his first over. However, KP and Bopara led a good revival and built a quick partnership. Ishant continued to disappoint and ended up going for 36 off his 4 overs with no wickets but plenty of poor balls. Dhoni tried all the gimmicks, including getting Yuvi to bowl to KP, an experiment which, unsurprisingly, failed. It appeared that KP and Bopara were running away with the game until Harbhajan was brought on and he tightened the run rate up a bit. At the other end, Ravindra Jadeja shined with the ball, snaring both Bopara and KP in his spell.
That really spelled the end of England’s momentum as Mascarenhas, who was promoted at the fall of Bopara’s wicket to push the scoring, failed to get any sort of rhythm. England ended up posting 153 for the loss of 7 wickets, which is not a mammoth total, but is one that could cause the Indian team trouble if the English bowlers pick up a couple of early wickets.
Finally, a note on our ground fielding. It was worse than pathetic. Luckily we aren’t dropping any catches, but we continue to be extremely shoddy in the field. I think we are probably only ahead of Pakistan in terms of fielding, taking into account all the Super 8 teams. This was in evidence in what should have been the final ball of the innings with England on 148. Harbhajan bowled one down the leg-side (a cardinal sin given that it was the final ball and he should have been looking at just getting it to pitch rather than being a full toss). Yuvraj misfielded at short fine leg and the ball ran away for 5 wides.
Anyhow, Sharma and Gambhir have now come to the crease so it’s time to watch the game. I will have another update at the end of the match… a post-mortem, if you will.