A Stanford Championship drubbing, a disastrous collapse against a second-string Mumbai side and now this. Where do England go from here? An ODI series win in Australia and Sri Lanka, a convincing Test series win over Australia and now this. What do India need to sustain the momentum?
<b1>"Bounce back strongly at Indore," said skipper Kevin Pietersen. "There are six matches left and there are areas to improve in our bowling and fielding. We need to keep our heads and chin up. Nobody likes to lose, but it's how you bounce back, that truly shows your character."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni stressed on more such team effort through the series. "We began well with Gauti (Gautam Gambhir) and Viru (Virender Sehwag) and then everyone contributed. Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) was exceptional and so were Munaf (Patel) and Zaheer (Khan)."
Braving a lower-back sprain, Yuvraj clobbered a 78-ball 138 against England in the opening match and ensured India got to 387 their second highest ODI total and their highest against the visitors. In the process he raced to a 64-ball 100, the fastest after Mohammad Azharuddin's 62-ball ton against New Zealand almost two decades ago.
Nobody gave England a chance when they came out for the chase and predictably they succumbed meekly. The 158-run win is one of India's biggest victories against a Test-playing nation.
Yuvraj had awkwardly pulled a short one from James Anderson to the mid-wicket fence for his first boundary. The medium-pacer's eyes must have lit up and followed it up with a similar one. Yuvraj was ready this time and it raced to the mid-wicket boundary yet again, only this time, with a lot more conviction. That was the beginning of mayhem for England bowlers.
Yuvraj was in his 30s when trying to push for a second off Pietersen that he hurt his back. He started stretching his back and then signaled to the dressing room looking in discomfort. At the end of the over, a lumbosacral belt was tied around his waist and Gambhir came in as his runner. The bludgeoning though went on relentlessly.
Finishing unbeaten with 16 fours and six sixes, Yuvraj accentuated what an opening stand of 127 off 119 balls between Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had set the tone for. After that Yuvraj and Suresh Raina plundered 89 off 77 balls for the third wicket and the ruthless hitting then reached a crescendo when with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India ransacked 105 runs in just 58 deliveries.
In the process, England, who came into this match thinking they needed to work hard on their batting, now will leave for Indore, the venue for the second match, with a lot of questions asked on the bowling department. James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who were given the new ball, both strayed in line and even the experienced Steve Harmison failed to hit the right areas. Andrew Flintoff's 14 off his first three overs looked the most economical by a distance at one point and even though young Samit Patel did get the openers, an economy rate of 8.66 will be of concern. India, as if, were playing against a club side.