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The Electronic Telegraph 2nd ODI: England v India, Match Report
Scyld Berry - 25 May 1996

Surrey fringe on top for England

England (162-4) beat India (158) by six wickets

Since the last days of July England have not won a representative match of any note, except a one-day international against South Africa in Bloemfontein. Thwarted at the Oval, they needed a win at Headingley as urgently as they have ever done.

The second of the Texaco Trophy matches was reduced in signifi- cance, however, when morning rain cut the ration of overs to 45 overs per side at first, and then to 42. Fortunately, it then turned out to be a low-scoring game, as England had only 159 runs to make, and more satisfactory than many games over- dominated by the bat.

On a pitch that seamed around less than the Oval had done, India could not even bat out their reduced number of overs, which will encourage England in the Test series if similar pitches are prepared.

Once Tendulkar had gone the partner who led him into beinga run out must have felt like suttee a total beyond 200 was always beyond the tourists. England's quick bowling and fielding had a freshness that was not present at Faisalabad in the World Cup quarter-finals. The young blood has quickened the older, and set all the legs working.

For a change the blemishes stood out, not the competent pieces of work. Three run-outs were made, and not an obvious one missed. Six catches were accepted out of eight chances, one of the two unaccepted being an edge that Alec Stewart only just got his right glove to when fully outstretched. On the deep boundaries to either side of the wicket Hick and Maynard, though both 30 years of age, provided a security blanket that was not pierced if they were within range.

Within that taut framework England's infielders excelled, the only case of diving over the ball a standard ritual in the World Cup occurring when Darren Gough was late down on a hard-hit drive to his right.

The sight of England's fielders hitting the stumps directly was to be enjoyed, when it mattered, too. Dominic Cork did it when Navjot Sidhu dared him at mid-off, and Mark Ealham, if he was the least of the five seamers, started India's slide: his throw from mid-on had to be direct to run out Tendulkar.

Thorpe missed a slip catch, as Azharuddin did for India when Atherton had scored only five. But Stewart missed nothing so straightforward as Nayan Mongia did when Thorpe edged Prasad to the Indian keeper's left.

Stewart showed all his experience, too, when the ball was darting into the right-handers early on, and he launched his lbw appeals from straight behind the stumps, however much the ball was heading towards leg-side.

Lewis's hairline may have receded since his last appearances for England, but his pace has not. He maintained his excellence of the Oval, but then he usually does bowl as well in the second game of each return as he does in his comeback game.

Vikram Rathore exemplified the failing of most of the present Indian batsmen

He takes his wickets at 32 runs each in the first and second games of his comeback; his other Test wickets, when his place in the side has been more secure, have cost 40. But he has made a breakthrough in recognising that he has to be a strike bowler, so another improvement may follow to make him the finished arti- cle.

Dominic Cork needs the substance of taking wickets if his threatening words and gestures are not to be appear as mere bom- bast. He got his wickets all right three being as many as he has had in a one-day innings by shifting his line from leg to off. Peter Martin was his now reliable self - Azharuddin's pick-up for six a rare aberration - and Ealham hustled and bus- tled as best as his low trajectory would allow.

A year ago at Headingley the appearance of Gough threatened the roof of the rugby stand but this time, his Australian feats waning in the folk memory, the PA announcer was required before a cheer was raised. Still, he did a more mature job, not attempting raw heroic speed every ball, and all together England's seamers tied the Indian batsmen down to fewer than three runs per over for the bulk of their innings.

Vikram Rathore exemplified the failing of most of the present Indian batsmen when he tried to play forward but without get- ting his head sufficiently far over the ball. Pushing in front of his pad, Rathore edged to slip; Sidhu did not, if partly because England pitched on the short side at him, as Ath- erton discovered to his bruising cost at short-leg when Sidhu pulled.

Sanjay Manjrekar has the technique, but ever since he was struck on the head in his debut series against West Indies, more accidents seem to happen to him than there should. This time he was returning for a second run when Maynard's one-handed pick-up, and the quick hands of the bowler Cork, saw him run out on a television replay.

Significant innings by Azharuddin have been as rare in the last 10 months as England victories, so his 40 runs off 68 balls were not over-due. If anything, Ajay Jadeja stroked the ball with more felinity during his 33 from 27 balls: then Mongia skied to point and Jadeja chipped to mid- wicket off consecutive balls in Cork's last over, and Srinath had a fast bowler's heave and India were dismissed with 10 balls of their reduced quota unused.

The caterers who have to pay to rent their premises on the ground probably do not think of three o'clock as the best time for lunch. England's top-order batsmen seemed to be discomposed as well by the strange schedule, for soon they were two for two wickets and 23 for three, as India's tall, opening bowlers made their assault.

Alistair Brown's forward stride was that of a middle-order batsman, as he is by upbringing in championship matches for Surrey, more than that of an opener. Hick half-gestured that he had inside-edged his final ball, which was the first to keep low - though nothing like as low as the old Headingley used to keep. Atherton holding on at one end, England about to fall against the ropes: the customary setting for Thorpe to come out punching.

A pull for four off Prasad was Thorpe's first assertion, although he could not manage many more while India's two main pace bowlers completed their opening spells. When Paras Mham- brey came on, some wider balls off fullish length outside offstump were on offer, and Thorpe square-drove them handsomely, but not with so much flourish that the Yorkshire crowd would become suspicious of a flowery southerner.

Thorpe's stand with Maynard took England back into the game, and the balance was turning decidely in England's favour when Maynard did not hear Thorpe's immediate rejection of a second run. But India did not have a bowler to use the conditions as efficiently as Srinath and Prasad had.

Srinath had to come back, at 85 for four, for the 27th over, but six came from it, and when Prasad returned at the Kirk- stall end Thorpe drove him back up the hill and, after another missed swish, square drove the four which brought up his 50 out of England's 99.

Srinath retreated, Mhambrey returned and, with Stewart his county company, Thorpe took England past the hundred with six wickets in hand and four runs an over required.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk