India denied by rain
India’s hopes of breaking their duck against England this summer were dashed as the inclement weather prevented any chance of a result in the NatWest Series opener at the Emirates Durham ICG.
The tourists were whitewashed in the npower Test series and defeated in Wednesday’s NatWest International T20 but were in the ascendancy today before the heavens opened shortly after 3pm.
Seamer Praveen Kumar removed openers Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter as England slipped to 27 for two after 7.2 overs in pursuit of 275.
Following a lengthy delay, the covers were brought off to raise hopes of further action. However, the rain returned five minutes before the scheduled restart and the encounter was eventually abandoned at 5.30pm, which ultimately meant India’s efforts were in vain.
Parthiv Patel had made the hosts pay for dropping him on seven by going on to make 95 off 107 deliveries in India's total of 274 for seven. The left-handed opener also contributed significantly to India’s two highest partnerships of the match after England had decided to field first.
He and Ajinkya Rahane grew in stature following a steady start to put on 82, while Parthiv was the dominant batsman in a stand of 103 with Virat Kohli, who made a battling 55, for the third wicket.
Although Parthiv and Kohli were dismissed in quick succession, lower-order hitting from Suresh Raina and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni boosted the World Cup winners as England’s bowlers were made to toil for the most part.
Parthiv was only included after Sachin Tendulkar pulled out due to a sore big toe on his right foot as India, already shorn of a host of star players, named the same line-up that was defeated by six wickets in the Twenty20 at Old Trafford.
England had won their last eight matches in all formats but they were without Graeme Swann, who was ruled out with a stomach bug, meaning Samit Patel was their chief spinner.
There was also a place for Ben Stokes in one of five changes to Wednesday's side, although the Durham all-rounder's first contribution to the match was a forgettable one.
Diving forward at gully, Stokes, on his home ground, dropped Parthiv off a rising delivery from Tim Bresnan on an overcast morning in the north-east.
India had made an unspectacular start but Rahane and Parthiv struck a boundary each as Stuart Broad’s first over went for 10.
Rahane continued the trend in the Nottinghamshire seamer’s next set of six, clipping over midwicket to bring up the 50 partnership and slashing over extra-cover as India released their self-imposed shackles.
It looked certain that Rahane would make his second successive half-century but the opener could only pull Broad straight to Patel at fine-leg to depart for 40 in the 16th over.
England’s Twenty20 captain was sure he had Rahul Dravid caught behind soon after and his immediate review paid dividends as, despite no clear mark on 'Hot Spot', the not-out decision was overturned due to an apparent noise when the ball passed the bat.
Despite the furore, Parthiv, almost unnoticed, brought up his fifty and successive pulls through square brought him two fours off Bresnan.
Kohli was happy to rotate the strike and leave the big hits to his set partner, who duly obliged as lusty blows off Patel and Jonathan Trott took the left-hander into the 90s.
Parthiv slowed up, though, and, perhaps sensing one big hit would carry him to three figures, slashed wildly on 95 at a wide James Anderson delivery to nick to wicketkeeper Kieswetter and give the seamer his 200th ODI wicket.
England’s cause was further helped when Rohit Sharma was forced to retire hurt after one ball when Broad’s bouncer cannoned into his gloves. It was later confirmed that he suffered a fractured finger.
Undeterred, Kohli brought up his fifty and India’s 200 with a quick single in the 39th over. The right-hander had only struck three fours but, having struck Patel over midwicket for four, he played on off the next delivery.
Raina upped the tempo with two sixes late on to rush to 38 off 29 balls before he was fooled into pulling Jade Dernbach’s slower ball bouncer to Cook at short fine-leg.
Dhoni contributed 33 before he was caught behind in the final over off Bresnan, who then bowled Ravichandran Ashwin next ball as England finished with a flourish.
They got off to a shaky start when Cook edged the first ball of their reply just past the slips to the boundary and it was to prove the left-hander’s last significant contribution as he was bowled via an inside edge in Praveen’s next over.
Trott stroked Vinay Kumar through cover for two elegant fours but Praveen had England in trouble when Kieswetter was trapped on the crease shortly before the rain intervened.