England have lost their third One Day International in a row against India to go 3-0 down in the seven match series. Kevin Pietersen’s men lost by 16 runs after the Duckworth/Lewis method intervened with the light slowly deteriorating in Kanpur.
The main talking point as far as I am concerned after this match is England’s inept team selection. It was great news that Graham Swann came into the team, but he replaced a front-line seam bowler to leave England with the likes of Paul Collingwood, Samit Patel and Pietersen himself to bowl the overs of the ‘fifth bowler’.
This is something that you can ill-afford to do against such a destructive India side, especially when the ‘batting power-play’ is brought into the equation. Fair enough, the bad light prevented India making the most of their choice of power play, but there is no doubt that the cricket odds would have backed them to win the game anyway.
MS Dhoni was being remarkably patient in his innings as India looked to chase down 241 to win and there were three reasons for this. 1) He knew the light was going to come into play, 2) He knew he had a power play to use and 3) He knew that England would need to bowl their best bowlers in this power play, therefore leaving their part time bowlers to finish off the innings.
This is a situation that England brought on themselves in my opinion. Patel has done well in his international career to date, but his performance with the ball in this series have proven that he is, quite simply, a batsman who bowls a bit. Therefore, the fact he was used as England’s number one spinner for two 50-over games in India of all places, was ludicrous.
Graham Swann played a huge part in England’s limited overs victories in Sri Lanka last year and there is no doubt whatsoever that he is out best spinner in this form of the game. His figures of 1-47 off his ten overs probably didn’t do him justice in today’s game – he was forced to bowl in the batting power-play, after all.
So, England got it right by bringing in Swann for this game. However, to bring him in for Steve Harmison was ridiculous. The Durham man may have taken a little tap, but he had taken three wickets so far and the same can’t be said for James Anderson who has taken precisely none.
It isn’t Anderson I would have dropped either though. With India in the current batting form they are in, England must go into the game with five bowlers. If this means that Swann replaces Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood or Patel – so be it. We shouldn’t need eight batsman. The top six need to take more responsibility and perhaps a reduction in the amount of batting will help this along.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the case in the next game on Sunday. However, three matches into the series and 3-0 down, it would have come far to late for England’s chances in this series.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting