India Blind seal whitewash
India Blind's supremacy over England prevailed right up until the final ball as the tourists won their last two matches to complete a comprehensive 5-0 whitewash in their memorable summer 2007 series.
Having won the first three matches and thereby the series, India's fourth victory was completed confidently by the massive margin of 194 runs. For once, the sun shone at Studley CC in Warwickshire and for the second time in succession, England won the toss and again inserted India in the hope of taking early wickets.
Opener Shekhar Naik, batting with Subhash Boya, went off at his usual hectic pace hitting powerfully all round the wicket. Such has been his dominance at the crease throughout the series, that England considered his dismissal for 81 leg before to Andy Powers a real success but a sixth wicket partnership of 181 between Jose Shibhu Fernandez and Ketan Patel came together proved decisive.
Fernandez raced to a 74-ball century and followed up his classy knock of 43 the previous day with an undefeated 123 while Patel made an unbeaten 88. During this partnership, close-in fielder Mahomed Khatri was struck on the head by Fernandez and had to leave the field with a cut face depriving England of vital B1 overs.
In reply England made a steady start and had a few lucky breaks when a series of catches were dropped but after Foy was caught off a top edge by the wicketkeeper Manvinder Singh, Andy Powers tried in vain to keep the run rate up but England slumped from 187-3 to 221-8 in 10 overs with Ashish Negi again bowling a useful spell at the end of the innings.
In the fifth and final match at Feckenham CC in Worcestershire, England were beaten by 65 runs, the smallest margin of the series. India won the toss and batted and before they got off to their usual brisk start England were dismayed to see the prolific Shekhar Naik caught by Luke Sugg in the first over off a no ball. Apart from Mark Turnham fielding close in at short leg the rest of the England fielders were spread out and this, combined with a slowish outfield, made the Indian batsmen work hard for their runs.
However the openers Naik and Subhash Boya kept the rate at 10 an over until Keryn Seal bowled Naik to capture his first international wicket.
Luke Sugg bowled a testing spell and claimed two wickets including the stumping of Ashish Negi by Dan Field who was rewarded for his persistence in standing up to the stumps throughout the series. Jose Shibhu Fernandez scored an unbeaten 65 without showing the fluency of his previous two innings and captain Manvinder Singh made a run-a-ball 35, to leave his two golden ducks in previous matches behind him.
Chasing a mighty 384, England made a sturdy reply with Nathan Foy batting responsibly in partnership with Luke Sugg, despite being dropped on 24, to add 196 for the third wicket. Sugg was at his most dominant and his running with Dan Field put England within sight of victory until constant risks had to be taken. When Foy was run out at 280 and Sugg caught by Fernandez off Patel at 289 England’s chance had effectively gone.
The series ended with India confirmed as possibly the best team in the world with several outstanding players and England shaping their rebuilding process ahead of the next World Cup though several of the new players showed immense persistence and courage in the face of a conclusive series whitewash.
At the end of the match, which was the best attended and mostly enthusiatically supported of the series, there were speeches and presentations of trophies and medals by George Abraham, Chairman of the Association for Cricket for the Blind in India and Miles Northwood the England team administrator.