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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Simon Mann's column
BBC cricket reporter Simon Mann
By Simon Mann
BBC cricket reporter in India

England made the most of the best pitch so far in the one-day series in India to register their first win.

Andrew Strauss suffers an attack of cramp
The temperature reached 43 degrees C and prompted the question 'Is it ever too hot to play?'

Crucially, it had pace and bounce which encouraged England's seam attack and James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood bowled aggressively, both at close to 90 miles per hour in their opening spells.

India failed to cope, with the notable exception of Mahendra Dhoni and Ramesh Powar.

Without captain Rahul Dravid and Irfan Pathan, who were rested, their batting line-up suddenly looked vulnerable.

Virender Sehwag and Mohammed Kaif are out of form, while Suresh Raina appeared uncomfortable against the short ball.

Raina has made a favourable impression in this series but the real examination will come though when he steps up to Test level and finds the ball flying around his ears.

Dhoni, however, was finally given the chance to live up to the pre-series hype.

He is highly unorthodox, with a wristy, firm-footed technique unsuited to coping with the moving ball - but here it was bounce, not movement, that was the main weapon for the bowlers.

Dhoni dealt with it magnificently until he pushed a ball from Mahmood to mid-wicket immediately after a drinks break, a lapse which cost him a hundred.

He showed he has learned from his indiscretion on the final day of the Mumbai Test. He attacked flamboyantly in the opening overs and then reigned himself in once wickets fell at the other end.

But India's total was woefully short of being competitive and Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell put it into context with their fluent century partnership.

Bell has been unable to establish himself in England's one-day side.

He is not an obvious choice as a one-day opener, but he showed there can be a place for orthodox batting in the short game by using the pace of the pitch and the fast outfield skilfully.

In brutal weather conditions which provided a severe test for both sets of players, it helped that England did not have to press hard to achieve their target.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen was delighted by his first wicket for England

The temperature reached 43 degrees C and prompted the question 'Is it ever too hot to play?'

Strauss was forced to retire hurt with cramp; Liam Plunkett could not complete his allocation of overs for the same reason. Matt Prior vomited on the outfield while keeping wicket.

No play was possible at Guwahati because of the potential for injury caused by damp patches on the outfield, but is the threat of injury or illness from dehydration any less?

The obvious solution is not to schedule games in India at this time of the year.

That battle appears to be lost though, such is the congested nature of the international calendar.




SEE ALSO
India grounds profiled
13 Feb 06 |  Cricket
England in India 2006
08 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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