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England v India: match report

England (188-3) beat India (187-8) by seven wickets


England continued their winning streak over India, successfully chasing the 188 runs needed after a fine captain’s innings from Alastair Cook. Opening the innings, Cook made 80, as his team made short work of their target despite missing Eoin Morgan after he was ruled out of the series with a shoulder injury.

It was a fine effort by Cook, whose role shifted his role from anchor to aggressor with impressive ease in a match reduced to 23 overs-a-side after heavy rain forced a 7pm start. He even struck a six, only his second in international one-day cricket, to show he has acquired some power to go with his mental steel.

In his 63-ball stay he shared partnerships of 67 with Craig Kieswetter, who made 46 in typically muscular fashion, and 38 with Ian Bell, who cut the most dash. Not for the first time, Bell found himself promoted, this time to assume the role previously played by Kevin Pietersen at number four, a part that has varied from injecting the innings with energy, momentum and belief, to perishing in spectacular ways.

In his brief cameo, Bell, who was dropped on 11, managed all but the last, his uppish drive to extra cover off Ravichandran Ashwin, as soft as they come.

Just as Bell has struggled to assert himself during the first half of his England career, Ravi Bopara has also found consistency elusive. A man who can blow hot and cold in the space of a single shot, Bopara once again fell short of expectations, his skied slog off Ashwin with the win in sight adding unnecessary pressure to the chase.

Fortunately for the home side, the captain was still striking it well enough for England to win with five balls to spare, India’s bowlers not quite as competitive as their batsmen had been earlier in the piece when Cook put them in to bat.

India owed their competive total of 187-8 to a brilliantly explosive 17-ball 40 by Suresh Raina, and a fine 54 off 47 balls by Ajikya Rahane, his maiden fifty in 50-over cricket.

Raina played some extraordinary shots, his power and placement too good unless England’s bowlers could utilise spectators in the tenth row of the stands. Many can strike a cricket ball hard but not many always manage to get the right elevation to see it disappear into the crowd.

Curiously, England didn’t utilise the short-ball much against Raina, something he didn’t relish in the Test series. When the ball is not above waist-high he is a majestic striker and the 16-runs he took of one of Jade Dernbach’s over was a master class of controlled hitting.

England did manage some brilliant catching in the deep though, Ben Stokes taking a steepler off Raina and Ian Bell excelling at long-on, where his scooped ankle-high catch off Manoj Tiwary, was worth the price of entry alone.

It was fielding at this pitch that has done for Morgan after a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board revealed that the middle-order maestro first injured his shoulder during a match in Australia. The diagnosis is a SLAP lesion, which is a common problem in sportsmen who tackle or chuck things – two things he essentially does a lot of when you consider diving in the field is similar to a tackle.

Managing the problem has obviously not proved successful and he may need an operation. The shoulder is a notoriously unstable joint and if he does have surgery, he will need at least two months to recover. Even then he may never get his throwing arm fully back to normal, a not inconsiderable problem even for a dynamic batsman like him, given the importance of fielding in modern one-day cricket.

He will need to be patient whichever route he opts for, a quality in plentiful supply at the Rose Bowl, where a hardy public braved hours of rain before a break in the cloud allowed an abbreviated game to get underway at dusk.

Hampshire deserved the break too. The Test match against Sri Lanka here in June was also blighted by the weather and the substantial losses incurred have resulted in them defaulting on their staging agreement payment to the England and Wales Cricket Board.

When Glamorgan failed to pay on time for the first Test against Sri Lanka earlier in the year, they had next year’s Test against the West Indies taken away from them. It is believed Hampshire have been given until later this month to meet their obligations before a similar penalty is applied.

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