| Anil Kumble (left) and Mohammed Kaif take a run against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Nottingham: India’s hopes of redeeming their batting pride and reputation as world beaters were dented when they crashed to a seven-wicket defeat against England in the first NatWest Challenge one-day cricket International on Wednesday.
Looking to get out of the wretched form of the Asia Cup, the Indian top-order put up an inept display against the English bowling attack and were all out for a paltry 170 at Trent Bridge.
Steve Harmison claimed a hattrick after debutant Alex Wharf had ripped through the top-order to leave the Indian innings in shambles.
Mohammed 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. Wharf was later named Man-of-the-Match.
England were given a solid start by 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.
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 Sourav 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.
Sourav 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.
Harmison became the second Englishman and the 19th bowler to take a hattrick in one-day Internationals with the last three Indian wickets of Kaif, Lakshmipathy 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 Indians lost Virender Sehwag (4) early but looked to be recovering their poise through the association of Sourav and Laxman before Wharf came on for his bowl in big cricket in the 12th over.
Almost immediately, Sourav 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. (PTI)