If it was not for the unfortunate chain of events associated with the date today, I would have told you to mark it. Because, after two months of being in the country, the Indian cricket team missed out on another golden opportunity to win a game on the tour. The fourth match of the five-match series between India and England ended in an exciting tie.
Chasing 281 for a win, the English side were always kept in hunt through a superb innings of 96 by Ravi Bopara, and just seconds before it began to rain, the home team were in front of India. But in the space of two balls, England lost two wickets and that tilted the game towards a tie, which meant that England had won the ODI series as well, with the lead of 2-0 and only one game to play.
It rained thrice in the English reply; first after 44 overs when India were ahead by a couple of runs on the Duckworth-Lewis system, then after the 45th over, when they were behind by the same margin and lastly in the 49th over when both the teams were on level pegging.
India’s start was good, if a little lucky. The ball swung around a tad through most part of the initial overs and there were many plays and misses from Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane, both of whom took some time to get their radar right.
However, they seemed to have come out with a better plan than the previous game at Oval, where half the Indian side was sent back for less than 60. Respectful of the conditions and that of the opposition bowling, India got to only 14 off the first six overs before hitting their first boundary in the match.
It was a Patel special; short ball pulled away over the boundary for a six. The momentum came soon after that big stroke as the opening partners added 65 for the first wicket, that included 14 off the 12th over sent down by Steven Finn.
It was in Stuart Broad’s first and second over of the match that Indians were rocked. First it was Rahane who was declared out lbw and then Patel finally fell to the short ball, top-edging one to the fielder inside the circle. It was a shot that had worked well for Patel throughout the series but for once the bowler had the last laugh.
Another partnership between Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid followed, but Graeme Swann consumed both of them in the same over – again, his first of the match.
With 110 for four at this stage in the 26th over, the Indian batsmen seemed to have fallen astray yet again, after a good start. However, the captain and the vice-captain, Dhoni and Raina mounted what was not only a fightback, but also probably a counterattack.
It started off slowly but as the overs progressed and the wickets did not fall, the acceleration also come through. Off the first 25 balls, only 11 runs were scored, off the next 10 overs, the two added 50 but it was in the last 10 that India really left the English bowlers on the back-foot.
The Batting Powerplay was taken in the 43rd over and after seven from the first of those field-restricted overs, 51 were smashed off the next four and that took the Indians towards what looked like an unlikely score at the start of the innings. Dhoni and Raina finished off the innings with 37 from the last three overs to take India to 280, one of their better batting performances on this entire tour.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for India to win the ODI.