India put on a much better display at Bristol to even the series 1-1. Here is my analysis of the game.
Team selection: India picked 5 full time bowlers and that pretty much sealed the game for India. On a small ground the margin for error is very little and with some of the full time bowlers like Agarkar and Munaf struggling, it is not difficult to imagine how England could have ripped into a part time bowler. Picking two spinners also did the trick for India.
Batting: To put up a good score, you need to have a good start, solid consolidation in the middle overs and a good finish. India have often been guilty of not doing one (or more) of these things right. In this game, there was no such problems. Tendulkar and Ganguly gave another great start to the innings. They paced their innings very well and here is their progression: 39 in the first 10 overs of power play(RR 3.5), 30 in the next 5 (RR 6.0) and 44 runs in the last power play (RR 8.8). By not losing any wickets till the 20th over, they were able to accelerate well. The partnerships between Tendulkar/Yuvraj and then Yuvraj/Dravid ensured that the middle overs were played well.Dravid almost single handedly made sure that they finished well (India scored 93 runs in the last 10 overs in spite of some good bowling from Flintoff at the death) . I wonder why Dravid doesn’t play the kind of innings that he played in this game more often. Tendulkar could consider himself a bit unlucky at not getting to his 42nd hundred. He now has 13 scores in the 90s!
Although India didn’t have any run outs, India still need to improve their running between the wickets. There were at least a couple of occasions when Ganguly tried very hard to run himself out, but failed 🙂
Bowling: India bowled well in the middle overs thanks to Chawla and Powar. Chawla was a revelation and his wickets of Bell, Pietersen and Collingwood were crucial in ensuring an Indian victory. Powar was the most economical of bowlers conceding just 43 runs in his 10 overs and bagging the wicket of Freddie Flintoff. Munaf was expensive, but he took three wickets (two in consecutive balls) and made the breakthrough that India needed. He has to watch out for the no-balls (one of which resulted in a catch) and wides (one that went via second slip for a four). In fact India gave away 28 extras – this is an area that they need to work on for the next game. Agarkar was again expensive – he needs to pick his game up in the other games – he certainly seems like the weak link in this bowling line up.
Ganguly dropped four catches followed by Dhoni and Powar with one each. [Edit] India dropped four catches with Ganguly dropping two while Dhoni and Powar dropped one each – India should just consider themselves lucky for getting away with it. I know that like any other team, India do train hard at catching – they just need to continue to work on it.
As the England team showed, they bat deep and India shouldn’t let their guard down like they did towards the end of the game allowing them to get close to the target.