Cricket - England hold nerve to beat India in opening ODI

First ODI, Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot - England (329-4 from 50 overs: Bell 85, Cook 75) beat India (316-9 from 50 overs: Yuvraj 61, Gambhir 52, Raina 50, Tredwell 4-44) by nine runs. England lead the five-match series 1-0.

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England's Steven Finn (Reuters)

England arrested a run of 13 straight one-day international losses away to India with a nine-run win in Rajkot.

Led by contributions from the whole batting order, England posted a competitive total of 325 for four from their 50 overs.

Alastair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (88) set the tone, and Samit Patel applied the finishing touches with a 20-ball 44.

A very good batting pitch at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium meant that score was never out of India's reach.

India's openers made a flying start, and three batsmen - Gautam Gambhir (52), Yuvraj Singh (61) and Suresh Raina (50) - scored half-centuries as they set about their target.

But England took wickets at crucial times, with James Tredwell the pick of the attack, to keep the hosts at bay, finally restricting them to 316 for nine in an entertaining start to the five-match series.

Despite being the world's top-ranked ODI side, Cook's men came into the series as underdogs given their atrocious record in India and failures in their first two warm-ups.

Having won the toss, the England captain and Bell put on a record first-wicket stand for England against India in ODIs, adding 158 in good time to get the innings started.

Kevin Pietersen (44) and Eoin Morgan (41) then combined in a more belligerent partnership, adding 76 in 65 balls.

Both fell to Ashok Dinda as they tried to up the pace in the final 10 overs, but Patel's late flourish - he and Craig Kieswetter added 38 runs in the final two overs - made sure England turned their total into a daunting one.

Whether the score was down to the new fielding restriction and powerplay rules, which came into force for this match, or simply sloppy bowling and a benign pitch, was hard to determine.

But some poor lines from the seam attack of Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach and Tim Bresnan allowed India’s opening pair to start whittling England's advantage down.

Tredwell, aided by an unlikely spin ally of Joe Root, helped stem the tide, with Tredwell removing Ajinkya Rahane (47) and Gambhir.

Root, on debut for England, was slated to bat at four but found himself shunted down the order for bigger hitters, missing out on a bat altogether - then bowled nine largely admirable overs, which cost him 51 runs.

Yuvraj looked to push the run rate onwards – Yuvraj had scored a century in a famous ODI at Lord’s in 2002 when India successfully chased down the same scoreline – and his 38-ball 50 looked to be turning the game back the way of the hosts.

But he fell tamely on 61 trying to help a Tredwell ball around the corner, leaving Raina and skipper MS Dhoni to chase down the remaining runs.

Raina hit his stride, only to become Tredwell's fourth victim, but at the other end Dhoni was warming up.

He hit four enormous sixes to unsettle England, but Dernbach, whose bowling had been average until that point, accounted for him with a slower ball when he had 32, then added Ravindra Jadeja later in the over.

Ravi Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar tried to keep in touch with the run rate, but there was to be no final twist as the Indian challenge finally subsided.

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