The Over: 2nd and 3rd ODIs

We’re afraid our limited love for the one day game has meant we couldn’t be bothered to do a separate post on the 2nd ODI, but given its close resemblance to the first game, you could probably just go back and read our post on that. We’ve attached a few thoughts from the second game here as well, and, as a result, this particular ‘over’ resembles an Umar Gul one, what with it having more than six ‘balls’ in it…

Wide – Seriously, did someone ‘up there’ just copy the major parts of England’s performance in the 1st ODI and paste it wholesale into the 2nd game? A Cook hundred, Bopara fifty, Finn four-for? Not to mention Umar Akmal once again giving a demonstration of how he is the worst wicketkeeper in the Akmal dynasty, which, given the competition, is like losing to a three-toed sloth and a Galapagos tortoise in the hundred yard dash. Admittedly, Pakistan’s batting was marginally better second time around, and England managed to stave off collapse, but the similarities were a bit striking.

NO BALL! We’re not quite eating humble pie over the England performances so far, given our expectations at the start of the series, but there is perhaps a small portion of Mama Cook’s Humble Tartlet to be consumed. You see, in the first two ODIs, Cook (and to a lesser extent Bopara, but more on that shortly) along with England’s battery of quicks slightly papered over the cracks left by the rest of the batting order. We were wrong to think that this series would go the same way as the Test matches, but the performances in the first two games weren’t 100% convincing, although England have improved in most of the key problem areas we identified. The third game however, was about as one-sided as a game between two competitive sides can be. Good on you, lads.

Free hit – It really isn’t anything personal, but Ravi Bopara doesn’t convince with the way he plays. Maybe it’s those puppy dog eyes, but he just doesn’t inspire confidence. Hats off for his innings so far, which have shown he’s capable of sticking it out, but there were rather too many edges through third man and not enough authoritative shots for our liking. His biggest problem is himself – he’s clearly highly dependent on his own confidence, and it seems he doesn’t impose himself enough at the crease. Having said that, two consecutive fifties aren’t to be sniffed at and if he keeps performing, he deserves to keep his place. He’s probably already done enough to nick the final Test spot from Eoin Morgan.

We’re delighted to see KP get a hundred – he looked a totally different player today, and although a couple of the dodgy shots remained, we’re more inclined to overlook them in an ODI, especially as they didn’t get him out. The crisp hitting was Kev at his best though, and it’s good to see him get the 50 over monkey off his back after a pretty indifferent time of late. The opening partnership seems convincing, and actually looked pretty comfortable in the first couple of games, albeit without the results we saw today. Please ignore all previous suggestions re: Graeme Swann (or anybody else) opening…

Steve Finn – just wow. 11 wickets at 8.36 and an economy rate of a shade over 3 in the series so far. He’s surely edged himself ahead of Bresnan now for the Test spot, assuming England go back to three seamers.

NO BALL! (again) So the twisted experiment that was Umar Akmal keeping wicket has finally come to an end. He showed today why Pakistan wanted his batting with a solid fifty, but his keeping was barely one step up from having a cardboard cutout with comedy giant foam hands stuck on it standing behind the stumps. You simply can’t afford to have such a poor keeper in internationals, no matter the weight of runs you can score and it only took 100 overs of complete ineptitude for Misbah and Pakistan to work that out.

Free hit – We said all along that ODI cricket was the real form of the game – none of this Test nonsense. England clearly getting their priori… sorry, we just can’t finish that point without several of our internal organs forcibly ejecting themselves from our bodies in disgust. Any idea that this whitewash (so far) cancels out the Test humiliation makes us sound a little too much like Indian fans.

If the ball isn’t swinging or spinning, you get the impression that Alastair Cook could almost literally bat forever, subject to occasional food and water. He’s like a perpetual motion machine – he just goes on and on and on. He looks faintly annoyed at bowlers and fielders all the time, as though they’re merely delaying or inconveniencing his inevitable march to a mammoth score, and he narrowly missed out on becoming only the fifth man to score three consecutive ODI tons today. His technique is simplicity itself, and coupled with his inhuman concentration levels, it’s a fearsome combination.

And finally, a quick word about the England women’s team, who play in the 2nd T20 against New Zealand overnight after demolishing them in the first game. Since losing the Ashes last year (in a scandalously short one-match series), England have lost only one match in all formats (7 ODIs and 8 T20s) and are unbeaten in T20 internationals. (If you’re wondering why Tests aren’t mentioned, there haven’t been any – in fact there have only been two Tests at all in the last three years, which isn’t nearly enough.) The women’s game is still developing, but it’s great to see England thriving. We’ll have a full post on it in the next few weeks. For the moment though, for more on women’s sport, including some pretty forthright views on the current state of it, please check out our good friend Sportscarton‘s blog.

Over.

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