x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Elements give Dhoni and India a helping hand

The world champions are back on winning track after beating England by 126 runs, with their captain scoring an unbeaten 87.

Captain MS Dhoni came to the wicket when India were struggling at 123 for four on Friday.
Captain MS Dhoni came to the wicket when India were struggling at 123 for four on Friday.

MS Dhoni, the India captain, conceded that the absence of dew helped his bowlers to defend their total of 300 for seven, as the hosts beat England by 126 runs in Hyderabad on Friday.

Dhoni led from the front as injury-ravaged India redeemed themselves in the first of five one-day internationals (ODIs) since returning from a poor tour of England.

Arriving at the wicket with India's score on 123 for four, the wicketkeeper-batsman hit 87 off 70 balls, and alongside Suresh Raina (61), powered the world champions to 300 on a slow wicket at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

England, fresh from their overwhelming success over India at home, were shot out for 174 in 36.1 overs to hand India the early lead in the five-match series.

Alastair Cook, the captain, was their leading scorer with 60, but England lost their last eight wickets for 63 runs after being comfortably placed at 111 for two in the 23rd over.

Ravindra Jadeja, the left-arm spinner, and Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-break bowler, grabbed three wickets each and seamer Umesh Yadav claimed two in front of 25,000 home fans.

"There had been a fair amount of dew the previous few evenings and that's why we played three seamers," said Dhoni, the man of the match. "It was good the dew did not come into play tonight.

"We were looking to make 250-260 because that would have been a good total on this wicket. Of course, dew would have made it easier for the side batting second."

Dhoni also praised his inexperienced bowling attack for the win, saying: "I am happy Jadeja has improved a lot and it is good to have a bowler like Yadav in the side because he is one of the fastest we have in the country and hits the deck hard.

"We have to show the same intensity in the remaining matches," said Dhoni, whose side had been blanked 4-0 in the Tests and 3-0 in the ODIs in England.

Cook said losing the toss was crucial as batting became difficult in the second session. "It was important to win the toss because we saw at the end that the ball kept low," he said. "But India outperformed us today.

"We're going to have to learn from this, and that's the beauty of a five-match series. We know playing spin is an issue, and that's a skill thing. We're going to work hard on that in the next couple of days."

India, playing their first international at home since the World Cup triumph in April, were without the star batsman Sachin Tendulkar and at least six other regulars, due to injury or poor form.

The hosts defended the total with a new-look bowling attack in which three specialists, Vinay Kumar, Yadav and Ashwin, had played only 25 ODIs between them before Friday's match.

England were reduced to 40 for two by the 10th over before Cook and Jonathan Trott (26) put on 71 for the third wicket.

Jadeja turned the match around by removing both batsmen in successive overs, Cook holing out in the deep and Trott being bowled to make England 120 for four.

England slipped further to 134 for seven as Ashwin dismissed Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan and Jadeja took care of Jonathan Bairstow.

Yadav bowled Graeme Swann and Samit Patel, before Ashwin signalled India's emphatic win by shattering the stumps of last man Jade Dernbach.

The second one-dayer will be played in New Delhi on Monday.