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The Electronic Telegraph 3rd ODI: England v India, Match Report
Christopher Martin-Jenkins - 26,27 May 1996

England are 2-1 in reply to India's 236-4

England's bowling and fielding has been more consistently impres- sive than their batting in the rain-molested one-day series so far, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle the task of scoring a further 235 runs in 49 overs on the reserve day of the third match to win the Texaco Trophy today. Interesting, too, to see how many of a spirited Old Trafford crowd will re- turn for part two of this game.

The majority stayed on through a lengthy period of morning rain yesterday to be rewarded by the sight of Mohammad Azharuddin peppering the leg side with strokes of wonderful flair on the first pitch of the three games not to favour the bowlers. Perhaps ominously for England, although certainly not deli- berately, Sachin Tendulkar's powder will still be dry when the first Test starts at Edgbaston on Thursday week. It may be high summer weather by then, and there is a better forecast for Man- chester today but traditional Bank Holiday rain has spoiled this series and pointed the way, in all probability, to a triangular tournament when next there are two touring sides.

There is disillusionment, too, with the idea of having a reserve day, but it may not be shared by those who have paid a minimum of #24 for a ticket. There is little the authorities can do about rain, which intervened for the second time yesterday at 5.55pm when England's innings was in its infancy.

Mike Atherton's innings, however, has already been and gone. Javagal Srinath brought his fourth ball sharply back off the seam to hit the England captain's front pad on the line of the pop- ping crease, leaving David Constant, making a welcome return to international umpiring after a six-year absence, with a straightforward decision.

Srinath's success with the new ball thus continued and he and Venkatesh Prasad have sounded a clear warning to England that the Indian bowling, with Anil Kumble and Venkatapathy Raju to spin once they have toiled, is going to be far from a pushover in the Tests to come. Raju's selection, in place of the inex- perienced Paras Mhambrey, may be the key to proceedings today, but England will be hoping to dominate him as the Indian batting did Neil Smith's finger-spin.

In the moist conditions the new ball was well used by Dominic Cork and Chris Lewis

India made two other changes, bringing in the left- handed Sau- rav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, two young batsmen who relished the chance and made important contributions as India recovered from a slow start. In the moist conditions the new ball was well used by Dominic Cork and Chris Lewis, but Ganguly and Vikram Rathore coolly played themselves in after Cork had found an outswinger of perfect length for Tendulkar, whose edge was gleefully accepted at second slip by Graeme Hick.

In all these matches the new ball has moved sufficiently for the idea of a headlong dash for the first 15 overs to be imprac- tical. England's decision to send in Neil Smith to join Alistair Brown before rain set in again last night is, therefore, a gam- ble and it will be fun to see how it succeeds.

At the halfway stage of their innings the Indian score was only 77, but by then Ganguly had begun to flow and he and Rathore took ten from an over by Lewis and 18 off Smith's first three. Atherton's shrewd response was to bring on Graham Thorpe, who obliged by taking his first two international wickets with what used to be called military medium.

Rathore drove him to long-on in the 30th over and in the 34th Ganguly over-balanced as he aimed to leg and was deftly stumped by Alec Stewart. It was the first of two pieces of work which confirmed Stewart's rare talent as a wicketkeeper, the second being a spectacular right-handed airborne catch to dismiss Ajay Jadeja when he and Azharuddin were accelerating ra- pidly.

Azhar hit two sixes in an over off Smith, a straight drive from down the pitch and a swing in front of square leg, but neither was so remarkable a stroke as Jadeja's inside-out drive to hit Lewis over long-off.

Azhar hit only five boundaries in all but those flexible wrists found gaps all over the place and have given India a chance of squaring the Texaco series. Inevitably many specta- tors will not take up their option to return, so a limited number of #10 tickets (#5 for those under 16) will be on sale. Texaco Trophy: Brown takes bludgeon to tourists

Reserve Day Report

India stunned as angry Sidhu retires in a huff

England (239-6) beat India (236-4) by 4 wickets

There was a dramatic background to England's encouraging Texaco Trophy win at Old Trafford yesterday and a maiden international hundred, full of character and bold strokes, by Alistair Brown.

While the Test and County Cricket Board were waiting until after the match to announce that Ray Illingworth must face a disci- plinary hearing, the Indian dressing room was sitting on the knowledge that Navjot Singh Sidhu, the only opening batsman in the team with Test experience, had announced his retirement from international cricket after being dropped from the one- day side.

The Indian manager, Sandeep Patil, refused to forward Sidhu's letter, notifying the Indian Cricket Board of his decision, until the team had held a meeting last night in Chelmsford, where the Indians will play Essex today.

Patil said: ``He's got a lot of cricket left in him and I still want him to open in the first Test next week. He was not the only one to be dropped and we just wanted to change the combination.''

Sidhu and Manoj Prabhakar formed a very effective opening pair against England in the last series between the two sides, but Prabhakar also resigned in a huff when he was left out of India's World Cup squad and they would be dangerously short of batting experience if the brooding Sikh were not to reconsider.

In 36 Tests, his 2,087 runs have come at an average of 40, a record only bettered in the present side by Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammad Azharuddin.

England won the Texaco Trophy and a total of more than #30,000 by getting home in the third match a little more comfortably than the margin of seven balls and four wickets suggests.

But for the rain at the Oval last week they would have swept the board and, the Illingworth debate apart, it has been the best possible start to the season after a winter's cricket which ended with nine successive defeats in one-day games against Test-class opposition.

It is right that David Lloyd should take much of the credit

The adventurous selection was rewarded by Brown's match-winning innings of 118. It will not, at least for the time being, be likely to lead to his promotion to Test cricket, but if he can bat with the same power and effectiveness when he plays in the second series of one-day internationals at the end of the sea- son, he could earn himself a place on the winter tour and much might flow from that.

It is right that David Lloyd should take much of the credit for the fresh spirit and a renewed sense of purpose and precision in England's cricket these last few days. Those vibrant fielding practices, positive slogans on the wall, patriotic tapes and motivational videos seem to have had a revivifying effect. He wants the players to have fun, and they have done so.

It is not so easy if you are losing, but the winning has to start somewhere and by attention to the details of technique and tac- tics as well as by creating the right atmosphere the new coach has, like the team in his charge, made an excellent beginning.

It would be dangerous for people to turn him into an overnight worker of miracles and it is one of Lloyd's maxims that no-one should look too far ahead. A team suitable for one-day cricket has been sensibly selected and properly prepared, doing the job in hand well. So far so good.

Nothing stood out more in the contrast between England and India than the greater efficiency and sharpness of the home side's fielding. India's yesterday was ragged and fallible, although the two catches which went down did so at a time when England were more or less certain to win. Graham Thorpe, starting scratchily, was dropped by Azharuddin at slip off Srinath when nine and Brown by Raju at long-off, a difficult, plummeting chance, when he had reached 90.

His hundred came soon after, in the 38th over, and he added a 10th four and a second six off Raju before he miscued a pull off Srinath and lobbed a catch to mid-wicket. His was not a flawless innings, but he scored heavily in the arc between ex- tra cover and third man and hit the ball exceptionally hard, with a full-blooded swing of a 2lb 10oz bat, taking full toll of everyone except the excellent Prasad and Srinath.

Full of confidence, Brown said he had been made to feel as if he had been a member of the team for years, and he had predict- ed to Chris Lewis that he would make a hundred yesterday.

The relative roughness of his method was a contrast to Graeme Hick's more classical striking in a stand of 85 which took only 15 overs in fitful sunshine after Neil Smith had been de- ceived by Prasad's leg-cutter, spooning a gentle return catch.

Hick drove Kumble over long-on for six before he also played too early at a leg-cutter but by the time that the ubiquitous Prasad had hit the stump directly to run Thorpe out with a throw from deep midwicket, England were coasting.

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