By Nasser Hussain
Even without its key T20 players – Virendra Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, India almost pulled it off at Old Trafford.
Despite a better performance, the fact remains that India has now lost five matches on the trot, which is something the players and fans are not accustomed to, and the pressure will no doubt be mounting on them.
India failed to drive home the advantage after an excellent partnership between Rahul Dravid and newcomer Ajinkya Rahane, with clumsy batting in the middle overs.
They lost quick wickets and left their tailenders to tackle the variation of Jade Dernbach, who was simply unplayable, and deservedly was the man of the match.
Here in England, T20 is not a hit and miss affair, as it can be in the dead pitches of the sub-continent, where a batsman can put his front foot out and try and heave every ball to the boundary.
Twenty overs can become a pretty long affair, and batsmen have to be watchful and ensure their side bats the full 20 overs, which India did not.
The star for India was Rahane who played a fantastic knock.
He played the short ball particularly well and didn’t seem to be in any trouble.
It beckons well for India that there are players of Rahane’s abilities waiting in the wings. I was pleased to see Suresh Raina hit the ball cleanly to all parts of the ground.
He is such a valuable player. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma should have got their eye in before going for their shots. Dhoni too should have stayed on until the end. India were twenty runs short of what to my mind would have been a winning score.
Dhoni marshalled his bowlers well. His move to bring in Virat Kohli in the middle overs and Munaf Patel in the death almost worked for India. His keeping was better and his leg side stumping of Pietersen was as good as any I’ve seen.
On the field, this was a better performance from India thanks to the fielding of Raina, Kohli and Sharma, though there were some sloppy moments as well.
I thought Sharma’s catch off Eoin Morgan was good and clean and should not have been referred to the 3rd umpire.
Apart from the wide ball call in the last over of the game, the umpiring overall was good.
India were a bit unlucky as England’s batsmen were able to get a lot of edges away for boundaries. That invariably happens to losing sides and is a part of the game.
I wouldn’t read too much into the lone T20 outcome. India needs to focus on the one dayers.