Spectators across the country had given a lukewarm response to the One-Day series. The only T20 match at Eden Gardens on Saturday evening had the best turnout in six matches, though the 62,000 capacity stadium was not really packed. But what unfolded in the middle was not a very good
advertisement for the game, at least not for the slam-bang variety.
A 40-over game finishing with almost two overs to spare, just three sixes hit in the Indian innings and four when England batted, 10 fours in the first 20 overs and nine during the chase was not money's worth. Worse still, India lost the match, a so-called blotch on their "clean up of the English" bid.
India lost the match in the first 20 overs itself. England bowled well and India's batsmen played poorly. But one of the reasons India lost could be because they tried to put up an improbable total on board. Openers Robin Uthappa and Ajinkya Rahane edged to the 'keeper, pushing at deliveries moving away from off-stump.
India did not recover from that start. Wickets fell as they tried to force the pace and even though Manoj Tiwary and Suresh Raina upped the tempo with superb running between the wickets, the thrust associated with a T20 match was missing. The fans were looking at Dhoni to once again work his magic, but that did not come.
England bowled their slower balls well, took almost all the catches. India had too little to defend, and after putting up an impeccable show while fielding right through the one-day series, failed to take their chances.
But then the Eden Gardens wicket that was termed 'ugly' by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after the fifth one-dayer on Tuesday and 'very strange looking and bone dry' by England T20 skipper Graeme Swann on Friday at the pre-match media conference, played the worst part.
The ball did not come on to the bat in the first session and though a bit of dew eased it out a bit in the second, stroke-making still was 'at your own risk'.
That is where England, already knowing the number of runs to chase down, had the edge. Kevin Pietersen, playing with a broken thumb, brought all his sub-continent experience to the fore to score 53 with four fours and three sixes. That ensured England did not collapse like they did on Tuesday.
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