Seeing as how the game was on Sunday and it’s now Wednesday, I’m a bit late with this piece. But my site needs content, and it doesn’t matter if it’s slightly out of date. There was quite a bit of build up and hype before the England vs. India match, and the actual match didn’t fail to meet expectations. After the Indians batted first and put on 338 runs, including a century from Tendulkar, the game seemed to be theirs. History was on their side, the highest total England have ever chased to win a ODI is 306, and England had lost their last five matches against India. But England had chased down a target of 293 in their first match of the tournament, albeit against the Netherlands, but still, they were in a bit of batting form. Their chase got off to a good start with Strauss and Pietersen adding 68 for the first wicket. Pietersen was very unlucky to lose his wicket the way he did. He hit the ball, hard, back at the bowler Patel, who took evasive action, but the ball hit him and went straight up in the air, giving him an easy catch. Trott came and went quite quickly, but Bell and Strauss then added 170 for the third wicket. Over the course of the 26 overs they were together the match swung towards England, when Bell departed, for 69, England needed 58 off 44 balls, with 7 wickets in hand, which should have been a straightforward task. However, Strauss fell to the very next ball, ending his great innings of 158. Collingwood and Prior soon followed, scoring just 1 and 4 respectively, and England were left needing 50 off 28 balls, with only 4 wickets left, a much tougher ask. Yardy and Bresnan both hit quick runs to help England recover, but by the final over they’d gone and England still needed 14 to win, with 2 wickets left. A six from Shahzad, and some good running by Swann, left England needing 2 from the last ball. Swann took a single and the game was a tie, a result which England would have taken at the change of innings, and which India would have taken when Strauss and Bell were batting so well, but both will feel they threw away their chance at victory.
Before this tournament started I thought England’s batting was their weakness, but that their bowling and fielding was strong. So far the opposite has been true, and their batting has had to get them out of trouble caused by weakness in the field. As the tournament progresses I think there’s only really two ways this can go, either their bowling improves and they become quite a formidable team, or their batsmen lose form and they become absolutely terrible. Fortunately, the format of the tournament gives them time to improve, they have several days in-between matches to analyse where they’ve gone wrong. If the matches were played with less time between them then I’d be less optimistic. But another problem the team may have is fatigue, the one-day side has been playing pretty much non-stop since mid-January, and the Test players since the end of November. Some have been rested, or had time off with injuries, but it’s still a long time to be playing a full match every few days. Of course, the Australian team has had to deal with the same problems and they’ve been much more convincing so far. The main difference is that they’ve been on a fairly consistent winning streak. They may have lost their warm-up games against India and South Africa, but in proper competitive matches they’ve been winning. I think England still need to get themselves out of the rut they got in losing to Australia, and get back into the habit of winning. Winning their warm-up games and beating the Netherlands was a start, and hopefully this tie with India will complete the turn around.