Nottingham: India have lost the first one-day international of the NatWest series to England by seven wickets. With today's loss, India's hopes of redeeming their batting pride and reputation as world beaters was also severely dented. Looking to get out of the wretched form of the Asia Cup, the Indian top order put up an inept display against an innocuous England bowling attack. The men in blue were all out for a paltry 170 at the Trent Bridge ground. Steve Harmison claimed a hat-trick after debutant Alex Wharf had ripped through the top order to leave the Indian innings in shambles. Mohammad Kaif, under pressure to deliver, top scored with 50 as he led the recovery after India had slid to 89 for five in the 19th over. Solid start England were given a solid start by the India-born Viram Solanki who capped his return to international cricket with a cracking half century. Solanki's 52 came off 76 balls and contained eight fours as the young right hander added 63-runs for the opening stand with Marcus Trescothick (33). Andrew Strauss remained unbeaten on 41 while Andrew Flintoff, fast gaining the reputation as the world's best allrounder, provided the finishing touch with a blistering 34 off 23 balls with three sixes and a four. In shambles Put in to bat, the Indians, handicapped by the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, were found wanting on a track that was seaming but true in bounce. The 52-run second wicket partnership between captain Saurav Ganguly and V V S Laxman turned out to be a case of 'flatter to deceive' as batsmen after batsmen fell prey to their own indiscretion. Ganguly made 24 from 31 balls and struck four boundaries and seemed set for a long haul but perished top edging a pull outside off stump to be caught by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones. It was Wharf's maiden wicket. The right arm seamer had success in his very next over when Laxman, who looked confident at the number three slot and hit four fours for his 29 off 35 balls, went after an away going delivery to give Jones' his second catch. Hat-trick spell Harmison became the second Englishman and the 19th bowler to take a hat-trick in one-day internationals with the last three Indian wickets of Kaif, Laxmipathy Balaji and Ashish Nehra in his ninth over. Kaif and Balaji were consumed behind the stumps and Nehra patted back a return catch as Harmison upstaged Wharf. The strongly built Glamorgan allrounder cut his teeth in international cricket with 3 for 8 from 14 balls and scattered the winds of recovery which the visitors had begun to gather at the start of their innings. Quick wickets The Indians lost Virender Sehwag (4) early but looked to be recovering their poise through the association of Ganguly and Laxman before Wharf came on for his bowl in big cricket in the 12th over. Almost immediately, Ganguly mistimed a hook to be caught behind the wicket and then four balls later, Laxman was slow to withdraw his bat from the line of a delivery on his off-stump. Rahul Dravid (13) was then drawn into an ungainly position to hook and Darren Gough made no mistake with the chance at fine leg. Yuvraj Singh (4) was pushed for a non-existent third run by Kaif but the ageing Ashley Giles sent in an accurate return into the gloves of Jones. Kaif and Rohan Gavaskar had built a 40-run stand from 83 balls for the sixth wicket before Paul Collingwood at point dived to pick up the latter for 20. At ease When England batted, they looked completely at ease against a wayward Indian bowling and fielding display. Trescothick looked in ominous form and raced to 33 from 40 balls with seven fours before his lavish square cut was well held by Yuvraj Singh at point. England captain Michael Vaughan was gone for nought from only seven balls as Balaji took his second wicket for no run from eight balls but the hosts looked never ill at ease. Solanki hit a half century but departed next ball to Irfan Pathan but his replacement Andrew Flintoff made the bowler pay for it with massive sixes over covers and mid-wicket. Flintoff finished off the game by swatting Kumble over square leg for a six in the 33rd over. He remained unbeaten on 34 with three sixes and one four from 23 balls.
(With PTI inputs)
Topics : Cricket