25 oct 2011
Indian spinners condemn England to 5-0 whitewash
England chose a particularly humiliating route to their second 5-0 whitewash in consecutive ODI tours of India, as they allowed their resolve to collapse twice in one match – first with the ball, as MS Dhoni walloped 75 not out from 69 balls to take his series tally to 212 runs without loss – and then with the bat, as they squandered a 20-over scoreline of 129 for 0 to lose all ten of their wickets for 47 runs in exactly 100 balls.
India’s stars with the ball, as in the first match of the series in Hyderabad, were once again the spinners, Ravindra Jadeja, who claimed 4 for 33 in eight overs, and R Ashwin, 3 for 28 in nine. They joined forces with the part-timers Manoj Tiwary and Suresh Raina, to choke England’s innings in a sea of slogs and dot-balls. Of England’s last nine batsmen, only Samit Patel (18) and Graeme Swann (10 not out) reached double figures. The rout was sealed with 13 overs to spare when Steven Finn top-edged an Ashwin carrom ball to the keeper and triumphant captain, Dhoni.
For the first two-fifths of the innings, England’s progress could hardly have been more serene. Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter saved their best performances of the series for the very last gasp. Kieswetter brought up his half-century from 49 balls – and England’s 100 with it – with a savage carve through the covers off Varun Aaron, and Cook was scarcely any tardier, reaching his own milestone from 51. For the majority of their stand, England were consistently 20 runs ahead of the required rate, without having needed to take any risks whatsoever.
The innings, however, was derailed by the extra pace of Aaron, who came round the wicket to extract Cook’s off stump for 60 from 61 balls – the exact same score he had managed in the first match at Hyderabad. Eight balls later, Kieswetter followed suit for a run-a-ball 63, as Jadeja pinned him lbw on the front foot, and suddenly the innings was wide open.
Bell, playing in his first match of the series after Kevin Pietersen had been ruled out with a chipped bone in his thumb, scratched around for 2 from six balls before snicking Ashwin to the keeper, and three balls later, all hope had been truly lost when Jonathan Trott, England’s likeliest middle-order ballast, pushed loosely at Jadeja and edged a simple chance to slip for 5.
In Jadeja’s next over, England’s innings went even further off-track, as the overawed Jonny Bairstow tried to hit his way out of trouble but instead skidded a thick outside edge to Ajinkya Rahane at backward point. Ravi Bopara squandered the chance to be a hero when he was bowled round his legs for a 16-ball 4 by Ashwin, and Tim Bresnan – so often England’s most combative tailender – confirmed the general air of surrender when he chipped a loose drive off Tiwary for a fourth-ball duck.
Long before the final indignity, England had already blown their best chance to salvage some pride in the series thanks to another scruffy fielding performance which undermined another superb display of fast bowling from England’s only shining light of the series, Finn. From a comfortable 71 for 0 after 15 overs, India slumped to 81 for 3 in subsequent bowling Powerplay, with Finn sparking the loss of three wickets for no runs in ten balls with a brilliant double-wicket maiden.
First to go was Gautam Gambhir for 38, in near-identical fashion to his dismissal by Finn at Mumbai, as a lifting delivery outside off nipped off the inside edge and into the stumps. Then, after welcoming Virat Kohli with a series of excellent deliveries in the channel outside off, he bowled him with a final-ball beauty that zipped off the seam and crashed into off stump as the batsman offered no stroke.
Four balls and no runs later, and Tim Bresnan was into the act as well, as Kieswetter atoned for an earlier drop with a soaring leap to his right to cling on to a flying edge. A second consecutive maiden for Finn was then followed by an equally frugal first over from Bopara, and India’s collapse should have been four wickets for one run in 25 balls when Swann at second slip dropped an absolute dolly off Suresh Raina.
India needed no further invitation to make England pay. Raina was eventually run out for 38 from 46 balls when his bat bounced in the crease as a direct hit came in from square leg, but it was the crunching hitting of the irrepressible Dhoni that left England’s prospects in the dust. He saved his most savage assault for the new boy, Meaker, whom he battered for a massive six over wide long-on in a penultimate over that went for 21. Patel fared scarcely any better in the 50th of the innings, in which a further 18 runs were scalped.
By the end of it all, Dhoni had added 330 ODI runs since England last dismissed him at The Oval in September, and his personal dominance was a perfect reflection of a series in which the tables of the summer had been emphatically turned.