After India’s disheartening show in the Test series versus England, the Indian fans expected their side to put up a challenge against the hosts in Cardiff on Thursday. Rain interrupted again, but this time only by deducting some overs. MS Dhoni-led men in blue finally ended the drought of victory and defeated England by 133 runs (Duckworth-Lewis method). England won the toss and captain Alastair Cook chose to field. The opening was again disappointing for India and by the score of 19, they lost both Shikhar Dhawan (11) and Virat Kohli (0). But after the openers departed, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane took the reins in their hands and began laying the foundation of the Indian innings. The two Mumbai batsmen built a 91-run partnership for the third wicket. At 132, India was down by four wickets, having lost both Rahane (41) and Rohit (52), which was the cue for a match winning performance by Suresh Raina. He, along with skipper Dhoni, started building a steady but crucial partnership for the fifth wicket. Both the Chennai Superking players mustered a 144 runs partnership in just 101 balls. Raina also went on to hit his fourth ODI century. He scored 100 runs off just 106 deliveries. In the end, the guests put up a challenging score of 304/6 runs in 50 overs. Woakes led the English bowling campaign with four wickets and James Tredwell bagged two. Chris Jordan (10-0-73-0) and Ben Stokes (7-0-54-0) proved to be pretty expensive with the economies of 7.30 and 7.71 respectively. Jordan also conceded 12 wide balls.
The English innings started off well with 54 in 10.2 overs before India hit the right chord and Mohammed Shami handed the team its first success in the form of Cook’s wicket. Coming in at number 3, Ian Bell was also dismissed after playing only two deliveries and England were suddenly at 56/2. Opener Alex Hales (40) tried to gather the crumbling pieces of the innings but could not get much backup from the other end and was eventually caught by R. Ashwin off a Ravindra Jadeja-delivery. From 81/4 (20.4 overs),
England eventually collapsed to 161 with 53 balls to spare (maximum 47 overs). There was a 34-run partnership for the 6th wicket between Eoin Morgan and Stokes which looked like a ray of hope but was broken by Ashwin when he took Morgan’s wicket. Spinner Jadeja outshone his fellow bowlers with four wickets with an economical spell of 7-0-28-4. Shammi and Ashwin bagged two wickets each. Centurion Raina also got lucky with the ball and took Jordan’s wicket.
All in all, it was an emphatic and much-needed win for the Indian squad. While India would be high on spirits when they take on England in Nottingham, they still have to look at some of their weak spots. The primary concern for them is their continued struggle in putting up a good opening partnership and the persistent failure of No. 3 batsman Kohli who added another duck to his kitty in Cardiff. But given the team effort they showed in this match and by rectifying their tendency of following one another to the pavilion, they may be able to overpower England again. They now lead the 5-match ODI series 1-0. England, on the other hand, will have to quickly learn from their mistakes and move on after fixing the errors they made in this outing.