England’s one day side gave new coach Ashley Giles a fantastic opening match by beating India at home and ending their 13-match losing run.
The signs were looking bad over the last week, as England fell in consecutive warm-up matches to India A and Dehli, neither times being close to winning. This initial showdown with the full India team was a much closer affair, with the tourists holding on to win by a slender nine runs.
Much of the damage was done at the start of the innings, as captain Alastair Cook and the rejuvenated Ian Bell notched up England’s highest ever opening partnership of 158, beating the previous record of Chris Tavaré and Barry Wood set in 1982. It didn’t take much either, as the fast outfield allowed the pairing to exploit any small gap to accrue several boundaries – between them, they scored 20 fours and two sixes. As India’s spinners wised up to their game plan, the runs became few and far between and risks soon led to wickets, with Bell run out by some fine direct throwing.
With Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan out for 44 and 41 respectively, the partnership of Samit Patel and Craig Kieswetter held on to give England a commanding lead. Patel, in particular, stood out with a brilliant 44 runs from 20 balls, including seven boundaries.
A score of 325-4 seemed a tough ask for the home side, but India got off to just as good a start as England. It took the determined bowling of James Tredwell to open things up, grabbing four wickets for only 44 runs loss. Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan also contributed and India were eventually ground down enough to avoid a last-gasp win.
After the winter that saw England’s Test side rise up and show India how much they’ve lost their way, it was never going to be quite the same job for the ODI team. A win under the belt in 2013 will do them the world of good, but the series is far from over.