Dhoni and Raina inspire big score. India 280-5 in 50 ov (S Raina 84, MS Dhoni 78*). Full scorecard.
The series – the tour in fact – came alive for a brief passage towards the end of India’s innings. The sun shone and Indian talent new (Suresh Raina) and older (MS Dhoni) tucked into a batting powerplay – and final-overs assault – that left them with a hefty total.
India ended on 280 for 5, Dhoni had 78 of them unbeaten and Raina made 84. That powerplay boosted India from 185 to 243 – and they didn’t lose a wicket. England tried some creative, lopsided fields to calm this storm – all leg fielders on the boundary, all off-side fielders in the ring.
It nearly worked but it is high-risk; fractions off length and line cost dear, as James Anderson found disappearing for 18 in one over, including a six by Raina into the top-tier of the Grandstand. India hit six fours and two sixes in the five overs.
After the powerplay, the happy-hitting continued. Swann suffered at Dhoni’s hands. The crowd grew noisier – the India support is vast and vocal – England fretted and shouted at each other. India made 109 for 1 from their last 10 overs.
Dhoni’s hands and talent finally started to dominate, Lord’s witnessing just how he led his country to that World Cup triumph. He plays with such extraordinary, natural flair, a whipped drive that can end up at either extra cover or midwicket, depending on the tiniest and latest of movements. It’s a natural, unique method that no one should copy.
By the last over, England were in confusion, Dhoni launched a massive six into the top tier of the Tavern stand from Broad – Broad actually didn’t finish the over through injury leaving Steven Finn to bowl the last four balls. Raina fell swiping, well-caught by Ben Stokes on the cover boundary, for 84 with only two balls left in the innings.
The final 10 overs were a release for India who were enduring a desperately familiar pattern: wickets, England seam bowlers on top, difficult scoring.
England hadn’t attacked quite as vigorously as they might initially on a wicket that played better than the grass covering suggested. Steven Finn, brought in ahead of Jade Denbach because of his familiarity with Lord’s and extra bounce, bowled with pace and to a tight off-stump line, but no luck. A very catchable chance disappeared between slip and the keeper off Ajinkya Rahane, batsmen played and missed or mis-timed.
The first wicket didn’t actually fall till the 14th over but England never lost control – and when Swann took two wickets – Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid – in his first over, India were in trouble at 110 for 4.
But Raina has found form in this series and MS Dhoni is the calmest customer in a crisis. They prodded and ran, slowly taking the energy out of England’s attack before that thrilling counter fired by the powerplay.
Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Cricketer magazine