Rajkot: Indian batsmen stuttered at key intervals to go down by nine runs against England in the first ODI of the five-match series at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot today.
Ajinkya Rahane was the first to go after making 47 (52) while Gautam Gambhir followed him after scoring a run-a-ball 52. India were 104/2 after 20 overs then.
All eyes were set on Virat Kohli (15) but he again disappointed with the bat. His bad form is a matter of concern now with many in the bench look keen to replace him.
Yuvraj Singh, who held the key, departed after a quick-fire 61. India needed 150 off the last 20 overs. Raina too succumbed after his 49-ball 50. MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja also fell as the total looked a mighty run chase. The skipper was in a smashing form but scooped up straight to long off after making a rapid 32 off 25 balls that included 4 huge sixes. His wicket was the turning point in the game.
India did manage scoring 316 finally with the last over demanding 18 runs. The target was gettable if the partnerships between the middle-order batsmen lasted for a bit more longer. However, spinner James Tredwell deserves credit to dismantle the partnerships by grabbing 4 for 44 in his 10-over spell.
Earlier, England made 325/4 after they elected to bat against India, getting off to a flying start. Watch: India to chase 326 at Rajkot against England
Openers Alastair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85) top scored to take England past the 150-mark without losing even a single wicket till the 27th over.
The Indian pace bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda, looked listless as none of them could either take a wicket or contain them till the death overs.
Only all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and part-time spinner Suresh Raina were able to contain the English batsmen for a while. They were the only bowlers to have an economy rate below six runs per over. Raina was also successful in claiming the wicket of skipper Cook.
Dinda was finally successful after clinching the wickets of Kevin Pietersen (44) and Eoin Morgan (41).
Craig Kieswetter (24 not out) and Samit Patel (44 not out) struck some lusty shots towards the end of the innings to take England past 300, after the Indian spinners reduced the run-rate in the middle-overs.
Batsman Joe Root debuted for England but did not get an opportunity to bat.
India made just one change to the team that beat Pakistan last week, bringing in Ashok Dinda for Shami Ahmed.
For England, mercurial batsman Kevin Pietersen returned to play his first ODI in almost a year.
The consolation victory over Pakistan in a low-scoring thriller in the final game in bitterly cold conditions was a desperately-needed shot in the arm for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men ahead of the rubber against England, which earlier whipped the hosts 2-1 in the four-game Test series.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda.
England: Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Steve Finn, Jade Dernbac.