Walking into the third ODI at Edgbaston of what was effectively now a best of 5 ODI series, India should really have had the upper hand psychologically. As it turns out, England have won what ultimately seemed like such an easy victory that India seem one batsman, a couple of bowlers and a team of fielders short.
6 batsmen + 5 bowlers is a strategy thats worked in the past for India but clearly what Rahul Dravid wants (who doesn’t) is an all rounder. The problem with going in with the 6+5 is that it has people in the team who are good at only one discipline. Such are always likely to be liabilities in one day sides unless they are exceptionally talented and committed and fit and consistent. Munaf Patel’s talent has given India the courage to ignore the rest of his weaknesses and give him the opportunities. His 5 overs for 37 yesterday (coming on the heals of 8 overs for 73 the match before) and India needing to win 3 of the next 4 to win the series probably mean that Munaf has played his last game of the tour. His being a liability on the field and a batsman having to bowl his quota to keep the run rate down defeats the purpose.
England got 281. It was not about partnerships as you would expect a score like that to be but about momentum. Just two partnerships of fifty plus (76 for the opening wicket the best of the lot), and Bell’s 79 the only fifty in the innings. Ian Bell’s ringing himself into form at #3 has been a big factor in the series so far as he’s held every innings together. India got the wickets at regular intervals but England had seen those cards before and carried on regardless. Collingwood said after the game that they felt at the break that maybe they were a few short.
India’s reply required a highest ever run chase. Sachin’s fifth tour dismissal to Anderson was soft and India’s #3 was somewhat predictable. At Bristol in the previous game, Dinesh Karthik was listed at 3 but on Ganguly’s dismissal, Yuvraj came out to bat. This time, Karthik got his chance to keep the left-right combination going. It didn’t last long though. Dravid’s found his touch in the Natwest series in the manner Bell has (probably a few notches higher) but with Ganguly dropping anchor (we could talk about rotating the strike but Dravid at the other end isn’t exactly the master of the sharp single) and the run rate climbing through 7, it was always uphill .
When the pressure told on the batsmen, the lack of skill sets of the lower order came through.
This 6+5 <11.