India back with a bang

Kochi: Back with a bang. That's the best way to describe India's thumping 127-run victory in the second ODI, at the Nehru Stadium, here, on Tuesday.

Having suffered a narrow nine-run loss in Rajkot, the win was a much-needed one as it helped the hosts to square the five-match series 1-1.

Importantly, India exposed the Englishmen's weaknesses on a slow pitch offering a good bit of assistance to spinners, something that could have a serious impact over the remaining matches in the series.

Besides, the present scenario allows the hosts to breathe a little easier, more so, as Ravindra Jadeja's all-round effort (61 runs and two wickets) solves India's concerns, at least for the time being, at the No. 7 position.

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (72) won a crucial toss and rightly opted to bat. Courtesy his and Jadeja's match-turning 96-run stand, India posted an intriguing 285 for six, overcoming a stuttering start.

The chase was always supposed be a difficult one for the visitors, given the conditions. And with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (three for 29) ripping through their top-order, the stage was set for Ravichandran Ashwin (three for 39) and Jadeja (two for 12) to strangulate England further.

Expectedly, they did so, making full use of the surface as England were dismissed for a paltry 158 with as many as 14 overs to spare.

Pacer Shami Ahmed, coming in place of his Bengal teammate Ashok Dinda, provided India with the early breakthrough when his outswinger induced a nick off the in-form Ian Bell, which was comfortably snapped up by Dhoni.

Kevin Pietersen (42) and captain Alastair Cook negated Bell's early departure with some delightful strokes. The pair, however, didn't last long as Bhuvneshwar trapped Cook lbw, before bringing one back in that went through the dangerous-looking Pietersen's defence.

Bhuvneshwar then dealt a killer blow by removing the reliable Eoin Morgan, just a ball after he got rid of Pietersen. Reduced to 73 for four from 58 for one, the situation simply demanded a little too much from the England batsmen.

Joe Root (36), in his maiden one-day innings, attempted a recovery along with wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter, but only for a while. Kieswetter fell to Ashwin, giving catching practice to mid-wicket, while Jadeja's arm-ball bamboozled Root soon after.

Thereafter, it was impossible for the Englishmen to even dream of staying afloat in the game.

Earlier, exhilarating stuff from Dhoni and Jadeja, coupled with the England pacers' wayward bowling in the death overs, escalated India's total to such a level which at one stage appeared way out of reach.