Fifteen months after failing to defend 298 and losing by five wickets here at the Punjab Cricket Association ground, England has returned to the “very English” conditions prevailing in the days leading to the fourth One-day International against India.
It may not have taken long for some members of that 2011 team to recall how Man-of-the-Match Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir put India on course with their century stand for the second wicket before Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja put the finishing touches in the final over.
Incidentally, these four performers are part of Team India that leads 2-1 in the five-match series.
Ian Bell, one of the key members of England’s one-day team, made no secret of the team’s preference to colder climes, but was quick to add, “I don’t think it (weather condition) had too much effect on the way we played in warmer weather, but it’s certainly nice to get out there and a bit of breeze sure helps everyone.”
Bell was candid in admitting that England barely tested the host during the past week.
“We are a little bit disappointed with the way we’ve played. We haven’t really put in performances that have challenged India at all.
Need for improvement
“There are certain areas from the last couple of games that we can improve. We get an opportunity to put in a performance like we did in the first One-Day International and hopefully go 2-2.”
He did not think it would be tough for the team to make a come back.
“We went into the first ODI losing the two warm-up games. We have to keep believing that we can win.
“We’ve shown we can do that but we have to get our basics right. India are a fantastic team and certainly in these conditions if we don’t perform well as a group, we are going to get beaten,” he said.
Asked about some questionable umpiring decisions in the series in the context of Kevin Pietersen’s reaction to the verdict at Ranchi and the gentle reprimand that followed from Match Referee Andy Pycroft, Bell said, “We can’t control them. It’s all part of the game.
“There’s no point dwelling on that. I don’t think it had too much of an impact on us losing the game.
“We just haven’t played well enough. Ideally, you don’t want bad decisions when you haven’t played well.”
Bell was all praise for the new swing bowlers and the impact Jadeja was making with bat and ball.
“We watched a bit of them in the Pakistan series. It’s nice to face the new guys in the middle and I think they have been very good.
“I think they have got some tested skill to swing the ball both ways and they bowled very well, especially in the last two games they have made us work really hard.
“Jadeja has been a good cricketer in one-dayers for a long time now, very consistent with bat and ball.
“He has managed to pick up wickets which is what you are looking to do in that middle period. He probably has a golden arm.”