Morgan stresses value of opening win
England set the tone for this series with victory at Rajkot, according Eoin Morgan who is determined to avoid a second ”blip” on Alastair Cook’s impressive one-day international captaincy CV.
The series continues tomorrow at Ranchi, the home town of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, which will host its first international ahead of fixtures in Mohali and Dharmasala.
Although England were beaten so heavily on Tuesday, Morgan thinks last Friday’s win - which broke a run of 13 ODIs in India without victory - could be pivotal.
“I’m a massive believer in the first game of the series being the most important because it sets the tone for the series. You have your first blow, a bit like a boxing match. But, again, every game is as big as the other and 2-1 up would be huge,” he said.
Morgan was an ODI regular long before Cook became captain in the spring of 2011, since when an outstanding record saw England begin this rubber top of the format rankings.
They have suffered just one series loss under Cook, a 5-0 whitewash to India in October 2011 that Morgan missed due to a shoulder injury.
However the Middlesex man believes the tourists can right those wrongs this month, particularly with Cook and Ian Bell combining so well at the top of the order.
“The only real blip we’ve had since Alastair’s taken over has been the last trip we had here and again we’ve learnt a lot of lessons from that,” he added.
“When we were here last we went away from our principles of taking our emotion out of the game and concentrating on what we do best and concentrating on us as a team and our strengths, rather than going out of that and getting distracted by other things.
“Along with that over the last year and a half or so, our togetherness has been brilliant. Along with that has come a lot of success and huge performances again from the skipper, Belly; there’s been contributions throughout really.”
England’s batsmen were left with too much to do at Kochi after India, inspired by Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja’s 96-run stand, flayed 108 runs from the last 10 overs to post a formidable 285 for six.
“We underperformed in the last game and we’ve learned some lessons that we need to go back to. But I think the bottom line is that when we do perform, we test India and as we’ve seen in the first game we’ve come out the better side,” he said.
“It’s very short sighted to say they’ve [the bowlers] come under a lot of controversy for those last 10 given the first 40 overs were absolutely immaculate and set us up perfectly for it.
“I think it was just a matter of not executing our plans. We had the right plans and we did the right things for the first 40 overs but, carrying them on through the last 10 overs, it just wasn’t there. And then on top of that you’ve one of the best batsmen in the world, having set a platform already.”
The man Morgan refers to is Dhoni, who accelerated from a steady rate to top-score with 72 from 66 deliveries. That innings and a 37-ball 61 from Jadeja sent a packed house into raptures.
Morgan, who has experienced three seasons in the Indian Premier League, is not phased by such crowds and does not think his team-mates are either.
“It’s certainly different to what we’re used back playing in England,” he admitted. “Having played a bit over here, you get used to the surroundings that revolve around cricket.
“Cricket in this country is huge. It’s undescribably big and everything that surrounds it is fanatical. I’m quite used to it at this stage. Even the trip from the airport to the hotel, seeing the streets lined like that just for a team turning up was amazing.
“I think the only way it sort can affect you is when you’re not involved in the game - so you’re not actually doing something - but once you’re out there and once you get into the flow of things, I think things become easier. But again, the atmosphere is amazing and playing over here is as good as anywhere in the world.”
The JSCA International Stadium, where the atmosphere will likely be similarly intense, will tomorrow become the second of three new international grounds in this series and Morgan is impressed by what he has seen.
“It’s beautiful,” he said. “This is my first time here. I’ve been to the changing rooms. The gym is massive and the changing rooms are massive. Everything has mod cons. It looks way ahead of its time.”