India's woeful run of losses continued after a struggling top-order failed to convert good starts even on a placid track as England drew first blood with a thrilling nine-run victory in the first cricket one dayer in Rajkot today.
Chasing a stiff target of 326, India lacked the batting
firepower and were restricted to a 316 for nine in a high-scoring contest to concede a 1-0 lead to visitors in the five-match series.
Opting to bat first, England rode on a record 158-run opening stand between captain Alastair Cook (75) and in-form Ian Bell (85) to post an imposing 325 for four on a batting paradise at the newly built Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
The Indians conceded as many as 38 runs in the final two overs with Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar giving away 20 and 18 runs respectively. The late flourish by England proved costly for the hosts.
India began the run chase in right earnest with Ajinkya Rahane (47) and an out-of form Gautam Gambhir (52) adding 96 runs for the opening stand but both were guilty of frittering away a good start.
Yuvraj Singh (61), Suresh Raina (50) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (32) were other notable scorers but again none of them could translate the start into a match-winning effort.
Off-spinner James Tredwell was te pick of the English bowlers as he scalped four for 44 while Jade Dernbach chipped in with two wickets.
It was a creditable turnaround for the visitors who came into match with back-to-back defeats in the warm-up games against India A and Delhi respectively.
The two teams will now travel to Kochi for the second one-dayer to be held on January 15.