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India discovered a new hero in Raina

Two of his signature strokes ? one a thump over mid-on and a scoop over fine leg will be frozen in memory for long, writes Graham Gooch.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2006 08:52 IST

I wonder if England missed a trick in attacking India enough when the critical sixth wicket stand was beginning to take shape in the second one-dayer. A meagre total can only be defended if the opposition is bowled out.

Teams bat way down these days and there are no rabbits. Rahul Dravid did so well in Delhi with his small total; it was Freddie's chance to catch the hint in Faridabad.

Maybe he, or none of us, suspected Suresh Raina to be that good. Raina, who had dropped a chance in the morning, was not asked to bowl his tweakers on a spinning surface and was "caught" for a good few seconds by James Anderson in his follow through.

Raina, then, let England feel the weight of his talent in the final hour and two of his signature strokes — one a thump over mid-on against Andrew Flintoff no less and a scoop over fine leg will be frozen in memory for long. Indian cricket has discovered a new hero. 

Powar was impressive. His success proves that you do not have to bowl "doosra" all the time to earn your wickets. He beat the two Andrews, Strauss and Flintoff, in flight and dip.

He is a conventional orthodox spinner the likes of which you do not see in international arena these days. May be a little less girth around his middle would allow him to accept such a dollop catch as he missed in his follow through.

All of India may swoon if it must, but please do not ignore the stench too. Your top order has been failing too regularly: it has happened in Karachi and Mumbai in Tests and Delhi and Faridabad in one-dayers. Dravid was too clever by half in feigning a run and Mohammad Kaif's attempted pull on a pitch such as this was dreadful.

Yuvraj Singh attempted a cut against the spin and Virender Sehwag and Gautam Ghambir, despite the early promise, triggered a collapse which quickly changed a position of 61-0 into 80 for 4.

England, meanwhile, continues on their journey of self doubts. It could have won both the games but that's hardly comforting. One-dayers, by its very nature, can go either way. There is no credit in running the opposition close if you are pipped at the finishing line. 

Most of the top batters in one-day cricket like to get in early and remain till the overs run out. The ones of England have been inept in this matter. So many single digit scores in the scoreboard is not pretty at all.

There was also a crying need to have a second spinner in the line-up. Gareth Batty should have been played on a surface where India tried everyone with pretensions of being a spinner. India invariably has two spinners on their low and slow surfaces.

I remember even in 1987, they had Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh. Four medium-pacers made it a too one-dimensional attack. It was certainly not horses-for-courses on a yet again terrible pitch.

Coach Duncan Fletcher says all the slots in England's team for one-dayers are more or less settled. He must be having the likes of Steve Harmison, Simon Jones, Marcus Trescothick, Ashley Giles an Michael Vaughan in mind. But the relentless diet of one-day cricket has shown that the second string should be interchangeable.

If India are not missing Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly and is taking the failure of Virender Sehwag in stride, it's because no place is secure. There is a price tag on every slot. It is dangerous on the part of England coach to convey that moss could actually grow on most slots now perceived settled.