Suresh Raina brought up his first century for India in four years © Getty Images
Suresh Raina brought up his first century for India in four years © Getty Images

By R Vishal

Aug 27, 2014

Suresh Raina‘s magnificent whirlwind century for India, making England bowlers look like bits and pieces ragged Indian Premier League (IPL) cricketers propelled the visitors to a fighting 304 for six in seaming conditions in Cardiff. In what was Raina’s first century away from home, the southpaw’s flicks, drives and the use of his powerful bottom hand was in full display and after all the excellent initial work from James Anderson and Chris Woakes. England crumbled under the belligerent counter-attack by Raina, who was well supported by skipper MS Dhoni during his stay at the crease.

Rohit Sharma and Ajinjkya Rahane also deserve to get a share of the plaudits after steadying the ship after quick breakthroughs early on that left India in a vulnerable position yet again.

England made a flying start to the game and there were back-to-back maidens to start proceedings for England. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were pegged back by some impeccable bowling by Anderson and Woakes. The seaming conditions had left India like  spider on a hot plate. Then India started to lose wickets. First it was the impatient Dhawan, who tried to go for a big heave and ended up nicking it to keeper Jos Buttler.

England scalped the big fish three balls later. Virat Kohli’s struggles continued when he tried to play an expansive loft over mid-off and it was straight to the throat of Alastair Cook. It looked like a predictable script that we have witnessed over the last month in the Old Blighty. The first change bowlers of England gave India the much needed respite. Chris Jordan, who will be lucky to get another game in the series after a horror show with the ball and Ben Stokes, making his comeback gave away too many bad deliveries and Ajinkya Rahane, undeterred by the situation went at the bowling at a brisk pace.

Rohit soon got into the act and was playing an uncharacteristic slow knock. Rohit meandered along while Rahane controlled the innings during this part and India were going steady. Just then, yet another double strike set India back. Rahane then fell courtesy some smart work behind the stumps from Buttler. Rahane’s back foot was on the popping crease when he removed the bails off the bowling of the tidy James Tredwell. Immediately after, Rohit perished in what has been a plague that has marred his career. After all the initial hard work, Rohit stepped out and hit the ball straight to Cook at long on.

The Raina show started then. Cook, sensing Raina’s tumultuous past with short pitched deliveries was treated with quite a few of them from Jordan, Anderson and Woakes. Raina evaded them with a stoic determination to make use of this opportunity. Otherwise, he was his free flowing self and despite all the demons on the pitch that was on display in the early overs, treated the bowlers with utmost disdain.

There was absolute carnage in the batting powerplay. Entertainment came in the form of Jordan’s woes gripping the ball Raina simply savaged everything that was in his zone. To be fair, England bowlers were rattled at this stage and the deliveries were wide or simply wayward. Raina got to 99 with a big six and perished soon after his century. Dhoni continued the assault but it was not one of his usual blitzkrieg cameos. He got to a breezy fifty and was castled off a superb slow delivery from Woakes, who finished with four wickets. Ravichandran Ashwin brought up the 300 with a bizarre boundary.

Brief Scores:

India 304 in 50 Overs (Rohit Sharma 52, Suresh Raina 100, MS Dhoni 52 ; Chris Woakes 4 for  52, James Tredwell 2 for 42) vs England.

Full Scorecard

Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here

(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)