So One All with 5 to play in the one day circus.
One suspects though that even if its coloured by hindsight, the Bristol game was decided as much at the team compositions stage as by the fantastic batting displays that were put on later.
India chose to drop Gambhir. His performances at this stage have asked for it. Definitely that he should not bat at 3. So while that part of the decision itself was not the surprise – the replacement was what made it a pleasant one. Romesh Powar. The logic offered was forthright and positive – at the Rosebowl we lost because struggled to get wickets in the middle overs. Thats the part we hope to address if we want to win. The batsmen will have to deliver. What made the decision even more remarkable was Zaheer Khan sitting the match out with a flu. This was positive intent. The small ground, the fact that we were trailing the series and that it was a day-night game in alien conditions was immaterial. As important as that it was five bowlers, India was playing two spinners for overs 20-45.
England on the other hand made one change to the winning combination. Tremlett came in and out went Monty Panesar. This morning Mike Atherton writes a piece in The Telegraph on why England have struggled to embrace the spin option in ODIs. Thats not what it was though – had it been most other opposition England would probably have played Monty – even at the small straight boundaries at Bristol. The problem, in my opinion, was that instead of playing their best XI, England was trying to counter India’s strength. As it turns out, the Indian batter’s plan of going for the 4th and 5th bowler’s twenty overs has now put Paul Collingwood in a bind. Tremlett went for 73 in his 9 and even if Monty comes back (surely !), the Flintoff and Sidebottom injuries make the composition of England’s 50 overs a worry.
To my mind, that initial difference in mindset showed right through the rest of the game. It could be the series’ psychological endgame unless England have the wherewithal to come back from it.
p.s. (Dear Chappelli, That was not dissent. Passive disappointment at best. And if I let my emotions colour it, and put the background of the guy’s illness ahead of the game, his innings within the game, his 90s on the tour so far, the dodgy decisions he’s got in the series before – then maybe it was passive disappointment at its best. Cheers.)