After a winless One-Day International stint in India in bilateral series stretching back to April 2006, England finally broke a 13-match sequence that included two 5-0 whitewashes and a tied match in the 2011 World Cup with a nine-run win in the first ODI against India at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Khanderi, Rajkot on Friday (January 11).
Alastair Cook said the win was important because it gave England the confidence of knowing they could win in India. That it came on the back of two defeats in the warm-up matches against India A and Delhi made it even sweeter.
"It is important, for the main reason that it gives us the confidence," said Cook. "It's pretty much the same squad that we had the last time out here when we lost 5-0. So to get an early win, especially in the first game, it proves that we can play in these conditions."
Cook had called his side "the clear underdogs" on Thursday (January 10), the eve of the match, and he reiterated that India were still favourites, but added that the first ODI had been a great game for England.
"I think we're still the underdogs, because India are so strong at home," he said. "But it was a really good 50-overs game for us today. It's very hard to stop runs on this wicket, and we didn't get too carried away by their start. Tredders [James Tredwell, who took 4 for 44] was really brilliant, and everyone held their nerves very well, especially towards the end when it was getting tight."
Tredwell, named the Man of the Match, struck at key intervals and got all four of India's highest scoring batsmen in Ajinkya Rahane, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. He was the only England bowler who had done well in the warm-up matches too after getting to play only because Graeme Swann, the first-choice spinner, was rested for the ODIs.
"Yeah, I'm delighted," said Tredwell. "Hopefully I can keep putting together performances and keep my hat in the ring for future opportunities."
Tredwell said that not being the first-choice spinner was "just the way it is", and added that he would continue to do what it took to keep improving. He found unexpected spin support in Joe Root, who was handed his ODI debut. Root had a first spell in which he gave away only 17 runs in five overs when he bowled in tandem with Tredwell and pulled India back from a good start.
Tredwell praised Root's temperament, saying that was a quality that stood out.
While Root's bowling did help England at an important juncture in the match, Cook clarified that bowling hadn't played a part in Root's selection to the playing XI, and the side looked at him as a batsman. "We think of him as a batsman, he's in there to score runs," said Cook. "Clearly with the start we got, we needed the power hitters to come in next, but there'll be other times when he'll bat at the top of the order. It's a big bonus that he can bowl more than useful offspinners."