Bell’s dismissal was a huge turning point

cricket blogs for Yahoo Cricket Columns

I've had the privilege of watching some great matches over the years but few can match the one between England and India for drama and emotion.


Eventually, that is what sport is about and this game was a great commercial for cricket. It had valour and courage, fear and nervousness, skill and stupidity....human frailties were on show even as a legend constructed another masterpiece only to be upstaged by one who batted brilliantly but will not occupy the same page in history.


To be honest, I thought the Castrol Index was being very kind to England at the start, rating India ahead only 171 to 169. But the moment a game is played on a flat deck India lose its great advantage in batting since conditions tend to even that out and bowling then becomes the differentiator; that is also why India's best chance is to play on tracks that help bowlers a bit so that its weakness gets evened out and the batsmen can provide the edge.


From that point of view, the Castrol Index got it spot on; it also told you how close teams are in world cricket over 50 overs these days.


So when did the match turn? Or differently, how many times did the match turn? Was it when India lost about 20 runs to its score when Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni got out and Tim Bresnan bowled an excellent over? Was it when England's bowlers hit a six each (the Castrol Index has points for secondary skills, apart from the core skill!), especially that last hit by Shahzad?


I believe the turning point came during the Batting Powerplay when Ian Bell tried to hit Zaheer Khan over covers. There is an old saying in cricket that you always try and imagine the scoreboard with two wickets added on; or indeed assume that you are the last batsman in and have to take the team home.


From that point of view, Bell will be disappointed. Till that shot, England looked like it would win with a couple of overs in hand.


Indeed, the Castrol Index for the match offers interesting pointers. It tells us that the first time England got ahead of India was in its 36th over and ceded the lead when Zaheer Khan claimed two wickets with successive deliveries in the 43rd over. It nudged ahead yet again with a good show in the penultimate over to finish with 198-183 on the Castrol Index.


There were two great centuries to remember this game by. When you have 98 hundreds like Sachin Tendulkar does, a century can become a number but this was wonderfully constructed too. And we probably saw the best innings that Andrew Strauss has played in limited-over cricket.


It was the game the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 needed.


Harsha Bhogle, is writing in his role as a Castrol Index spokesperson.