England can derive some satisfaction with Steven Finn (left), Kevin Pietersen (centre) and Samit Patel providing some cheer for their beleaguered side © Getty Images


By Nishad Pai Vaidya


The England one-day team will head home with plenty of questions over their ability to play in the Indian subcontinent after being decimated by a relatively young side.


England, however, can derive some satisfaction from an otherwise disastrous tour with Steven Finn, Kevin Pietersen and Samit Patel providing some cheer for their beleaguered side.


Steven Finn was named by Alastair Cook as the biggest plus point to emerge. He was up for the challenge on tracks that didn’t have much for the fast bowlers and bowled fantastic spells. Finn’s height has been the talk of the town since his debut. At 6 feet 7 inches, he is one of tallest international cricketers and he uses this asset to good advantage. With the high arm action he can generate good bounce and catch the batsman by surprise.


Finn’s pace adds a good dimension to his bowling. He can consistently bowl in the 140s, which is lethal considering the steep bounce he generates. His spells in the last three ODIs were brilliant as he kept the pressure on the Indian batsmen and didn’t allow them to gain the upper hand. As the other England bowlers struggled to restrict the opposition, Finn was England’s only trump card as he picked up crucial wickets.


It is fair to say that Finn is one for the future. Having won the ICC Emerging Player of the Year award winner, the young man from Middlesex holds the key to England’s future. This is his second trip to the subcontinent as he made his debut in Bangladesh early last year. He has already toured Australia and is scheduled to play for Otago in New Zealand later this year. He is getting exposure to various conditions which will help his development as a fast bowler.


Over the last few months there was quite a bit of speculation about Pietersen’s future in one-day cricket. Since the end of his captaincy after England tour to India in 2008, Pietersen has been a disappointment in ODIs as he has averaged below 23 – prior to the start of this tour. However, his knocks at Delhi, Mohali and Mumbai would assure Andy Flower that he holds a vital place in the England one-day set-up.


The biggest plus about Pietersen’s batting was that he was positive and ready to take the attack to the opposition. His approach was sensible and it helped England rebuild after a few quick wickets. He looked good for big scores on those occasions but couldn’t stay long enough. One could see that he was determined to fight it out and get back to his best in ODIs. Going by his latest outings, it wouldn’t be long before Pietersen returns to top gear in ODIs.


Samit Patel, the Nottinghamshire all-rounder, has shown glimpses of his potential with the bat. He was aggressive and positive during his stints in the middle. For someone who bats in the lower middle order, he did well to score a decent amount of runs. At Delhi, his 42 was pivotal in taking them to a fighting score after they lost wickets in a heap. But his knock at Mohali showed what he was capable of. Coming in at No 6, he bludgeoned 70 off 43 balls to take England to their highest score of the tour. The big shots were a regular feature, which he essayed sensibly. Whenever the deliveries were in his zone, he gave it everything.


Patel has to continue this good work with the bat and perform a lot better with the ball. On this tour he has just four scalps to show. He went wicketless in three games, but his spell of three for 57 in the Kolkata ODI would give him immense satisfaction. Cook persisted with him in the slog overs as he kept it tight and didn’t concede many runs. His figures would have been a lot better had he not gone for 18 in his last over.


Apart from the three discussed above, there were others who had their moments on this tour but weren’t consistent enough. Stuart Meaker seems to be a quick bowler whose pace can rattle the batsmen. Cook scored two half centuries, but was ordinary in the other games. Jonathan Trott’s 98 not out at Mohali was an innings that highlighted his anchor-role. Craig Kieswetter was good in patches but didn’t get a substantial score till the last game.


England had their moments but couldn’t make them count.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 21-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)