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Rain after some sunshine

India's quest for a morale-boosting victory was on Saturday dashed after persistent rain forced abandonment of their first ODI against England after the visitors found themselves in a comfortable position in Chester-le-Street. Sanjjeev K Samyal writes. Scorecard

cricket Updated: Sep 04, 2011 02:17 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Ajinkya-Rahane-bats-during-the-20-20-cricket-match-between-England-and-India-at-Old-Trafford-cricket-ground-in-Manchester-north-west-England
Ajinkya-Rahane-bats-during-the-20-20-cricket-match-between-England-and-India-at-Old-Trafford-cricket-ground-in-Manchester-north-west-England

Had Parthiv Patel been a footballer, he would have been described as the super sub. The Gujarat player is fast mastering the difficult art of delivering impressive performances when called in as a last-minute replacement.

In an ideal scenario with all first-choice players available on Saturday, Patel might have been cooling his heels in the warm confines of the dressing room. His England tour seemed all but over when he got out for 10 in the Twenty20 game at Old Trafford. Ajinkya Rahane seemed to have pipped him to the opener's slot for the one-day series with an impressive half-century.

Master hobbles out
However, at the last minute, India suffered another jolt when Sachin Tendulkar pulled out with a toe injury. And, in walked Patel into the line-up.

There was little time to settle down when the visitors were put in to bat, but the left-hand batsman was ready for the battle. It would be unfair to expect the class of Tendulkar, but Patel did himself proud with an innings of grit and intelligence.

His brave effort of 95 helped India reach 274, their best batting performance of the tour. India would be disappointed that rain ruined their effort, as they would have fancied their chances of registering their first win when England were two down for 27.

This entire summer, England pacers have rattled Indian batsmen, but Parthiv, with support from Rahane, refused to be intimidated by Anderson's army. The short ball was met with a horizontal bat. Not all were hit from the meat of the bat, but he picked his spots well to give India its best opening stand of the series, adding 82 with Rahane for the first wicket off 16 overs.

Growing confidence
Patel completed his 50 off 66 balls and he looked more assured once past the mark. He was soon playing on the England bowlers' nerves and the hosts were seen resorting to verbal volleys in an effort to upset him. It only seemed to make him more determined. When Tim Bresnan twice bounced him in the 27th over, Patel unleashed the most controlled shots of his innings, dispatching the ball to the fence with powerful hook shots.

If England had lost the game, they would have rued the dropped chance off Patel. The batsman was on seven when Ben Stokes put him down at backward point off Tim Bresnan.

Matured and measured
It was a mature innings for a fringe player. Patel is only 26, but has been around for a long time. Marked out as a prodigy, he had started his career in England as the youngest Test wicketkeeper in the game in 2002. At that time, many had predicted a long and fruitful international career. A certain 'Rambo' from Ranchi had other ideas and the talent of Mahendra Singh Dhoni derailed Patel's career.

'Everything's gone wrong'
Dhoni was irked by Rahul Dravid's dismissal following what appeared an inconclusive review: "I don't know how he was given out, don't know whether snickometer can be used. That is why we don't support DRS."

He also rued the continued misfortunes that have befallen the team. The visitors for the first time looked to be in some sort of command before the weather intervened. "Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong on this tour. And today it was the rain and two more injuries."