England win thrilling match by nine runs
England ended their 13-match losing run against India away from home and took a 1-0 lead in the five-match one-day series with a nine-run victory at Rajkot today.
Both teams passed 300 in a high-scoring encounter, however, it was England who overcame some nervy moments in the field to successfully defend their 325-4 total and give Ashley Giles the perfect start to his reign as one-day coach.
Captain Alastair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85) starred with the bat before James Tredwell returned career-best figures of 4-44 and Jade Dernbach took the key wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni to effectively end India’s hopes.
Dhoni, not for the first time, was India’s final hope of reaching the target after half-centuries from Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina had kept the hosts up with the required run-rate.
Gambhir returned to form with a run-a-ball 52, while Yuvraj (61) and Raina (50) provided the middle-order impetus to keep alive India’s hopes of pulling off their highest-ever run chase.
But those hopes were dashed when Dhoni, who smashed four sixes during his 25-ball innings of 32, picked out Joe Root at long-off to hand Dernbach the first of his two wickets.
Having earlier opted to bat first on a benign pitch – with a pacy outfield – England captain Cook and Bell laid the platform for their side’s huge total with a 158-run partnership for the opening wicket.
Only a smart piece of fielding broke the stand, with Ajinkya Rahane’s direct hit removing Bell for 85.
Cook followed soon after for 75, with Rahane taking the catch at short-leg off Suresh Raina but Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan picked up the mantle expertly.
The duo added 76 runs off 65 balls before Morgan was brilliantly caught and bowled by Ashok Dinda for 41 off 38 balls, while Pietersen fell for 44 when Virat Kohli held a diving catch in the deep off the same bowler.
Craig Kieswetter (24 not out) and Samit Patel (44 not out) then finished the innings with a real flourish to see England past the 300-mark.
The teams will resume battle in the second ODI at Kochi on Tuesday.