THE ONE Day series, that closed England’s injury-plagued tour of India, is over. The boys returned home battered and bruised, hopefully having gained some valuable experience on foreign soil if nothing else.
The sixth encounter in Jamshedpur produced the solitary, face-saving victory for the tourists, which was only made possible by match officials, perhaps fearful of a repeat of earlier riots, who decided to press ahead in inhuman conditions. India went in to bat, enduring 45 degrees in the shade, and wilted to 223 all out, despite the liberal use of ice packs. In reply, Andrew Strauss posted an unbeaten 74, retiring to be placed on a drip on the dressing room table suffering from dehydration. His valiant effort was enough to see England to victory.
Exhaustion was still in evidence as Strauss opened again for the last encounter, two days later, in Indore. The stand-in captain, deputising for the rested Flintoff, made 25 before being caught out, but Kevin Pietersen took up the banner. A blistering spell at the crease came to a sudden end, when England’s leading run-getter smashed himself on the left knee with his own bat, limping out on 64. Still, Collingwood and Jones passed the half-century mark, to contribute to a competitive total of 288 from exactly 50 overs. Indian batting soon put that score in perspective. Newcomer, Robin Uthappa, put on 166 for the first wicket with captain Rahul Dravid, and should have made a century on his debut but for foolishly running himself out. Dravid followed, only to make way for a third wicket stand of 115 from Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. In the end India strolled to a seven wicket victory with five balls to spare, wrapping up the series 5-1.