when England were walloping India every time they played? Of course you do - it
was only last month, after all.
A month and
a day ago England and India lined up in Cardiff in the final one-day
international of the summer. England won thanks to a precocious knock of 41
from 21 balls by Jonny Bairstow to complete a 3-0 series win.
There are just four changes from
the two line-ups between Cardiff and Delhi. India have replaced the retired Rahul
Dravid with the returning Gautam Gambhir, while RP Singh has made way for Umesh
Yadav, and Praveen Kumar's return has dislodged Munaf Patel. For England, Kevin
Pietersen has come in for Ian Bell.
the same personnel, the total turnaround seems amazing at first, but it isn't.
It can be ascribed to two things - momentum and home advantage.
broke India's spirit during the summer tour with some outstanding performances,
winning some contests which were closer than history will care to remember in
the early part of the Test series and only later on crushing their visitors. India
lost players to injury and weren't able to regroup against a side in top form.
month off, the tables have turned. And now India are on home soil - the same
pitches upon which they beat all-comers en route to lifting the World Cup trophy in April. For all the struggles in England, they remain the world champions,
and they are playing like the superstars they are feted as by the Indian public.
adaptation to playing in the subcontinent has historically been the toughest
task any team can take on - and England are attempting to do so in the format
they seem to enjoy least - without some key players such as Eoin Morgan and
disappointing as the last two defeats have been for England fans, they're
simply a reflection of the scale of the challenge the tourists face. The recent
record is stark - in their last 10 one-day internationals against India,
they've lost nine and tied one.
to say Cowers thinks the challenge is beyond England, mind. Under Andy Flower
the team have set increasingly high targets - goals slightly more ambitious
than 'win everywhere except the subcontinent in one-dayers'.
But it will
be far from easy, and England will have to do the basics far better in future
games. What happened to England's fielding in Delhi? They were outworked by an
Indian side who this summer were not so much a fielding unit as a slapstick
language was little better. The relentless optimism wilted in the face of pressure, replaced instead
with needle. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, speaking in the post-match interview, made a
spiky comment about the tourists' tetchy behaviour towards his batsmen which won't go unnoticed: "The series in England
was not a good one, but we showed character. We didn't get frustrated; we
remained social on the field and didn't lose our temper."
As England are ticked
off for moaning on the field, it might be worth remembering not to moan too much
off it, though all the old pet hates got a fresh airing as the game wore on.
Bell?" people cried, as if a man averaging 34 from 107 one-day
internationals at a strike rate of 73 was the knight in shining armour England needed. There's
no man so valuable to a defeated team as the one on the sidelines.
"Why didn't the
middle order go on?" - Five scores between 34 and 46 tell their own story,
but not one that's easily fixed. The England camp, we can only presume, are
already aware that not getting out having made some runs is likely to be more
conducive to winning matches.
And old favourite moans had
to be remodelled. The "why is Trott allowed to score so slowly?" question
had to be amended after he carved seven fours in a cameo of 34 from 37 balls
before he pushed rashly at a widish delivery. "Why does KP not play
himself in?" didn't really work as a grumble once he scored 23 from his first 40 balls,
before smashing Jadeja for two successive sixes. Actually, the traditional criticisms
of the two could just be swapped over to save time...
and their supporters could try to be patient. Speaking after the game to the
BBC, Cook spoke of a "mental problem" for England players playing
one-day internationals in India.
That sounds about right
to Cowers. Cook's first serious challenge as a captain is how to address that mental problem.
Three games left.
TALKING POINT OF THE DAY: As both
teams dominate on home soil, Cowers asks the question: Is it easier for Indians to play in
England, or Englishmen to play in India?
What do you think? Post your views
USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "England and India are only proving the old
Indian adage - "Even a dog is like a lion in his own territory" - England
are Lions in England, India are Lions in India. Doesn't reflect well on
either to be honest. This is why neither of these teams could ever hope to
match the all conquering Aussies of the late 90s and early 2000s." - man_united_raj offers an interesting
assessment of the value of home conditions.
TWEET OF THE DAY: "Come on all my Indian followers.. Let's be friends..
Your team are very good and I enjoy watching them.. Relax and party.."
Michael Vaughan gives a hint of the
stick his Twitter feed has taken after India begin to get what they've branded
STAT OF THE DAY: Not
only have England lost nine of their last 10 ODIs in India - only three times
have they managed to go the whole way through their innings without being
bowled out. And on one of those occasions they lost eight wickets in 22
SNAP OF THE DAY: If
you train by pretending to be rabbits, maybe you'll get caught in the