England off to a flyer

Tons from Bell and Cook set-up impressive England victory

By Paul Higham   Last updated: 22nd August 2007   Subscribe to RSS Feed

England off to a flyer

Hundred heroes: Cook and Bell

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England got off to a flying start in their one-day international series against India with centuries from Alastair Cook and Ian Bell setting up a comprehensive 104-run victory at the Rose Bowl.

In a superb limited overs performance, England got almost everything right whilst India struggled right from the start, when skipper Rahul Dravid put the hosts into bat - a decision which he will look back on in disbelief.

Cook and Bell both hit maiden ODI centuries as England made good use of a fine batting track to pile on 288-2, and that proved far too good for India's lacklustre batsmen as they were bowled out for 184 on the very last ball.

James Anderson started the ball rolling with a fine opening spell, while India did not help themselves throughout their run chase with running between the wickets that bordered on the schoolboy at times.

England were far superior in all three departments of batting, bowling and fielding, and while they will celebrate a fine all-round performance, along with the successful return of Andrew Flintoff who picked up a wicket, India will have a lot to think about after the manner of their defeat.

Slow start

England got off to a slow start, as Cook struggled to get in the runs while opening partner Matt Prior was not able to get enough of the strike.

Under-pressure Prior hoisted Zaheer Khan for a big six straight down the ground but soon after the bowler got his revenge when the England wicketkeeper chipped a looping catch to Dravid at mid-on.

That brought Bell in with the score on 43-1 and initially the two batsmen struggled to make the most of the remaining powerplay overs.

However, they soon started to up the tempo and eventually compiled a 178-run partnership for the second wicket that would set up England's total.

Cook answered some of his critics when he made his maiden ODI century, just his second in one-day cricket overall, before he was bowled for 102 by RP Singh.

Kevin Pietersen came in with the score on 221-2 and added a sprightly 33 from 25 balls, but Bell stole the show as he remained unbeaten on 126 for his first one-day ton in 48 matches of trying as England closed on 288-2 from their 50 overs.

Worst possible start

India had a lot of work to do in their run chase, and they got off to the worst possible start when Sourav Ganguly's sloppy running saw him run out after some rare fine fielding from Monty Panesar.

Anderson then took charge with three quick wickets, including those of Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh in the same over to leave India in deep trouble on 35-4.

That was the end of the match as a contest as a lacklustre India never gave the impression of being up for the fight.

Flintoff then grabbed a wicket on his comeback when MS Dhoni gloved one to Prior, and when Dravid became Dimitri Mascarenhas' first ODI wicket the game was won with India on 105-6.

Anderson got a further wicket late on to finish with career-best figures of 4-23, and Panesar capped a superb day for the home side by taking the final wicket with the final ball to bowl India out for 184.

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