Old Trafford T20I: Rahane and Munaf Impress As India Falter

Posted: September 1, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011
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 Goutham Chakravarthi

 1 September 2011

Stories about the square being changed from East-West to North-South greeted us as part of the renovation at Old Trafford in the build-up to the game last night. The people had turned-up in numbers and they witnessed a tight finish that England controlled beautifully in its chase. Grey clouds and cold weather not withstanding, there were some sparkling performances by some of the new players on both sides.

Rahane impressed on his debut

Ajinkya Rahane has hardly made a mark in IPL so far but for a game this season where he controlled a chase magnificently from the middle order to win it for Rajastan Royals. Yet, he possessed the confidence of a man coming with two centuries in the Emerging Players’ Tournament in Australia. He looked at ease against this English side on a slow wicket. He cut and pulled with equal ease and handled the spin of Swann and Patel with the confidence of a man who deals with them on a daily basis for his bread and breakfast back home. In short, he hardly looked out of place on his debut and looks a good bet now to partner Tendulkar at the top of the order in the one-dayers.

Rahul Dravid looked like the Rahul Dravid that I saw a lot of at the Chinnaswamy in the first edition of the IPL as captain of Royal Challengers – he looked out of place when having to force the pace. He looked to play a lot of big shots to rotate the strike and was missed by Kieswetter (he can’t keep wickets to slow bowlers from what I saw yesterday) early. When the struggle of Dravid looked familiar, he pulled it back like he did in the second half of the first season – by hitting Samit Patel for three straight sixes. He got out immediately after that, but it will be remembered for him scoring a hat trick of sixes, a feat, I can’t remember him achieving in any other format of the game.

Raina is comfortable with whatever is thrown at him in this format. He again held the innings together on either side of two spectacular collapses and still threatened to push India to a total close to 190 at one stage.

Dernbach was impressive for England even as Bresnan didn’t look very keen for the game. His control over his highly talked about back-of-the-hand slower ones mesmerized the Indian lower order that continues to battle collapses in all formats of the game. It is a worrying trend and it will be interesting to see how Dhoni and Fletcher work a way around this problem and also try and fix their fifth bowler issues. Dernbach, here, took full toll and floored the Indian tail with his slower ones and quick length deliveries. Indian had to settle for a much lesser score at 165 than what they looked good for at one stage.

England controlled the chase beautifully. It was a wicket that suited this Indian attack – slow and low. Pietersen and Kieswetter threatened to take the game away from the Indians when an impressive and unlucky Munaf pulled it back for the Indians. Long left to the sidelines all through the tour, Munaf showed good skills with his range – slower cutters, nip-backers and a good yorker – and troubled all English batsmen. He accounted for Kiestetter and Dhoni accounted for Pietersen with a quick flash leg-side stumping.

Morgan is highly regarded within the IPL circles as well for his ability to adapt to the varying demands of T20 cricket. He crouches so low, you wonder if he picks what the bowler is to bowl by smelling the wicket! In the over immediately after Pietersen got out, he smashed Rohit Sharma for two fours and a six to practically seal the game forEngland.

Morgan’s range of strokes and his general feel for the shorter format might make him one of the prime contenders for the captaincy post for both one-day and T20 cricket sometime in the future. That is a debate that might be inevitable should Cook or Broad look out of depth.

England’s vision for each format is impressive and it shows in the teams they have selected for T20 and one-day cricket. It is a summer where little has gone wrong for England. They have easily been the most prepared of the two teams all through the summer and look good for more given the nature of India’s mental state.

India is still looking for its first win over England this summer. They will have to be more disciplined and better prepared to put one over England on Saturday.


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