England held their nerve to win first ODI against India, said Nick Knight
England held their nerve to secure a long-awaited ODI win over India, Nick Knight told Sky Sports.
Last Updated: 11/01/13 4:40pm
In Ashley Giles' first game in charge of the limited-overs squad, England ended a 13-game losing streak against India in India to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
England amassed 325 on a favourable surface after winning the toss and then, with a fine contribution from new Kent skipper James Tredwell (4-44), restricted their hosts to 316-9 in Rajkot to win by nine runs.
India had threatened with Yuvraj Singh (61), Suresh Raina (50) and MS Dhoni (32 off 25) each looking capable of smashing the home side to their target following after a solid start from openers Ajinkya Rahane (47) and Gautam Gambhir (52).
But England struck every time Duncan Fletcher's side seemed to be taking charge - and their ability to stem the hosts' flow was what impressed Knight the most.
"The difference between the two teams - and I think this will please the England selectors and coaches - is when the pressure really came on England delivered," said Knight.
"When Dhoni started to step on it and take on Tredwell - and hit the ball out of the park as he is able to do - that's when England changed their tempo. Jade Dernbach got a couple, Tredwell got one and they slowed India down.
"That bodes well for this new look England side."
A superb first-wicket stand from Alistair Cook (75) and Ian Bell (85) took England to 158 without loss in their innings, but even when the openers were finally dismissed Kevin Pietersen (44) and Eoin Morgan (41) provided plenty of support before Craig Kieswetter (24 not out) and Samit Patel (44 off 20) threw off the shackles in the final overs.
However, Knight felt that, with a more aggressive approach in the middle overs, England could have posted an even bigger score.
"England, when they analyse this, will wonder whether they could have been a little bit more clinical and ruthless with the bat in the middle part of the game," said Knight.
"That way they wouldn't have needed to rely on 37 from Patel and Kieswetter to set it up. But generally it was an excellent performance by England with the bat, and an excellent performance with the ball."
Patel's knock in particular stood out in the tourists' innings and Paul Alott believes the 28-year-old is benefitting from the faith being put in him by the England management.
"If you score at two runs-a-ball you are going to make a difference and that's exactly what Patel did," he said.
"Andy Flower and now Ashley Giles are saying 'we want you to play an important role with the bat in the middle order as well as with the ball'.
"He knows he's not necessarily fighting for his place every time he goes in; confidence has been shown in him and he's repaying it."
Knight was also impressed with Patel and said it was good to see him finally showing what he can do on the biggest stage.
"Those of us who see Samit play regularly for Nottinghamshire in county cricket know that this is what he can do," said Knight. "Hopefully that innings has convinced him he can do it in international cricket as well.
"It's also an important innings for his identity in the team. Maybe that's his perfect role now: the finisher."
However, despite Patel's big-hitting, it was Tredwell who took the Man of the Match prize, and Knight applauded the Kent man for making his experience count.
"Tredwell knows his game," said Knight. "He's 30 years of age now and he's played a lot of county cricket, so he knows when he's under pressure what to do.
"He bowls outside the line of off for the right hander, trying to get the ball to come in between bat and pad, and he bowls a tight line into the pads of the left hander.
"Whilst he doesn't get the turn and bounce and doesn't have the skill and control of Graeme Swann he does a damn good job.
"We also have to give him credit because, when he comes in for Swann, he has an instant impact and takes his moment."