Few pluses for Indians in facile win

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Old 04-Jul-2014
Few pluses for Indians in facile win

Indians 341 for 6 dec (Pujara 81, Binny 81*) and 143 for 5 (Vijay 41) beat Derbyshire 326 for 5 dec (Durston 95, Godleman 67*, Jadeja 2-27) and 156 for 3 dec (Godleman 56*) by 5 wickets

In the middle of the afternoon, with Ishant Sharma almost in his run-up, the batsman Billy Godleman was left nonplussed as the keeper MS Dhoni ran towards the unmanned cover region. As the 50-odd spectators and others looked on bemused, Dhoni made his way to short cover and took position.

Now, this had been a low-intensity match and Dhoni is known for doing strange things, but surely he was not going to bowl without a wicketkeeper, although you were allowed to do that within the laws. Surely Ishant was not bowling that poorly, although he did have no-ball troubles. Turned out Dhoni was waving his midwicket fielder to move to short cover at the right exact spot where he stood. That might have been the most demonstrative you had seen Dhoni as a captain on a cricket field

It definitely was the most exciting moment of the third day, or even the match where any number of players could play as long only 11 fielded and batted, where you had to declare your innings after 90 overs and 45 overs, and where the Indians took the term "warm-up" too seriously as they were more intense in the nets than they were in the middle.

In the end, though, set 142 to win in 45 overs by the lowly placed Derbyshire, the Indians reached home comfortably with M Vijay finding some touch and Ajinkya Rahane adding 39 to his 47 not out in the first warm-up match. More importantly, Mohammed Shami, who missed the first innings with a mild calf strain, bowled with reasonable intensity for his 11-2-39-1.

In the process, a trend was set. India got their hands on the prestigious Royal Crown Derby Trophy, which will now be played between Derbyshire and the touring Test side every year, or whenever the ECB grants the county a warm-up fixture. The public that paid to get in, though, will hope the two teams will take the fixture more seriously in the future.

There was general grumbling about it at the ground, but you can't blame the sides too much. The Indians knew what they wanted from this game- acclimatisation to the conditions, getting in long spells, testing their endurance and fitness, and giving all their 18 players some time in the middle.

Derbyshire themselves have had an unfortunate season, losing four possibly first-choice players to injury and illness, fighting to get off the bottom of the table. They were hardly going to be the side to cause psychological indent on the tourists.

So when the hosts began their 45 overs of the final day, 15 behind on the first innings, they batted cautiously. Shami would have assuaged some of the Indian fans' concerns as he looked fit and in good rhythm. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, likely to be Shami's new-ball partner next week, induced the edge from the first-innings half-centurion Ben Slater.

Shami and Staurt Binny took the other two wickets to fall, but post lunch India did not use their first-choice bowlers, which assisted Derbyshire in setting a target big enough to give the batsmen a bit of a workout.

In the chase, Indians lost Shikhar Dhawan early to one that stayed low, but Vijay batted attractively for his 53-ball 41 before retiring out. In this innings, the Indians decided to let Rahane and Rohit Sharma have a go. Rahane made the most of it, but Rohit fell as he gave left-arm spinner David Wainwright the charge and edged him through to first slip. Wriddhiman Saha and Gautam Gambhir, who did not get to bat in the first innings, saw the tourists through with 8.3 overs to spare.

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