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Jonathan Agnew column

By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Indore

Kevin Pietersen
This is rapidly becoming a face-saving operation for Kevin Pietersen's men

It may have been a healthy victory margin for India, but at least England competed in this match.

At the toss both captains acknowledged that chasing runs on this uneven pitch would be difficult, but had England's bowlers not been so profligate for a second time their target would have been more in the region of 240.

When Stuart Broad reduced India to 29-3, England could barely believe their luck.

The state of the pitch meant the ball was already going through the top and pundits were forecasting that 200 might be a winning score.

But in came Yuvraj to join Gambhir, and the pair batted with great common sense, restricting their natural games until Andrew Flintoff gave Yuvraj the opportunity to have a free hit, and he smeared it over midwicket for six.

In the previous match at Rajkot, Yuvraj benefited from the platform built by the top order - he came in at 153-2 with England's bowlers already toiling. This was an entirely different situation which, for my money at least, made this century better than Friday's.

England were determined to give the impression that they were not panicked into making changes, but they should have played the specialist spinner Graeme Swann.

The pitch was clearly going to take spin, and Samit Patel - however worthy a cricketer - is not a front-liner.


Indeed, the whole balance of the team needs to be reviewed because I suspect that even Ravi Bopara is as mystified as the rest of us at his inclusion as a specialist batsman at number eight.

He is most unlikely to make any meaningful contribution in that position, and England need a fifth bowler which, on this surface, should have been a second spinner.

The line-up at the top of the order is also a talking point. Owais Shah made a good half-century, and Matt Prior gave glimpses as to why the selectors retain their faith in his ability to open the batting despite having an average of just 22.

But when he cramped up while batting, old questions about his ability to keep wicket and open the innings returned to the surface.

England are 2-0 down already and this is rapidly becoming a face-saving operation for Kevin Pietersen's men, while India's all-round cricket is looking increasingly impressive.

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see also
India v England: 2nd ODI photos
17 Nov 08 |  England
Dismal England thrashed by India
14 Nov 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
14 Nov 08 |  England
England in India 2008
14 Nov 08 |  Cricket

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