India ready for England challenge (Preview)November 13th, 2008 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS
Rajkot, Nov 13 (IANS) After their convincing victory over the Australia in the Test series, India are all set to take on England in the first of the seven One-Day Internationals here at the Madahvrao Scindia Stadium Friday. The Indians may still be in an euphoric state, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. are well aware of the challenges ahead without senior pros Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly, who have quit international cricket, Rahul Dravid, who is no longer a member of the One-day side, and Sachin Tendulkar who sought permission from the selectors to skip the first three ODIs.
In-from fast bowler Ishant Sharma, the Man of the Series against Australia, will also be missing with an injury, but the likes of Munaf Patel and Rudra Pratap Singh are capable of forming a potent attack with spearhead Zaheer Khan.
Virender Sehwag, who was not a part of the victorious Indian one-day team in Sri Lanka, is back to join his Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir to revive their old firm in the ODIs just as they did excellently in the Tests.
The middle order will also see some young legs with Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. The duo has been in fine form in the domestic circuit and will be looking forward to carry it into the series against the Englishmen.
But the main cause of concern for the Indian team will be the form of experienced Yuvraj Singh. The left-handed batsman has been a proven performer in one-dayers but has hit a bad patch following the ODI series in Sri Lanka. After a century against Australia in the second innings of a warm-up game in Hyderabad, the batsman has failed miserably in the Ranji Trophy.
The spin attack also looks formidable with Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan, who is known for his big hitting prowess. Harbhajan with two half-centuries against Australia has also showed that he is developing into a good lower-down batsman.
After a convincing 4-0 win over South Africa in the one-day series in September, England will looking to fancy its chances against the high-flying Indians.
But the build-up to the tournament hasn’t been ideal for them. From losing badly to Stanford Superstars in the one-off Twenty20 game in Antigua, to the defeat against a second string Mumbai XI in the warm-up game two days back, isn’t an ideal situation England would have loved to be in.
English captain Kevin Pietersen tried to put up a brave front after the loss in Mumbai.
“I think the guys are all right, we just need to turn our heads on now and make sure we start on Friday,” he said after the shock defeat in the warm-up match. “Today and what happened the other day (in Antigua) doesn’t really count in the grand scheme of things. What counts is the internationals. This really doesn’t matter, but it has taught us a few quick lessons.”
Making it more difficult for the visitors is the non-availability of left-arm swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom but Stuart Broad’s recovery will be a relief for them. England coach Peter Moores hoped that Sidebottom could be considered for the second match in Indore.
Moores said the players want to take revenge for the 5-1 loss in 2006.
“They want to show how much they have matured as a team. I think we are ready and up for the challenge,” said Moores. “We are looking to get off to a good start, put some pressure on India and gain some confidence.”
But much will depend on Pietersen and talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff , who need to be at their very best. Flintoff, incidentally, is being given special attention by their batting coach Andy Flower, who is well versed with the Indian conditions. Owais Shah is among the batsmen who play spin well but the onus will be on openers Ian Bell and Matt Prior, to lay a strong platform.
The visitors have already announced their playing XI with Samit Patel preferred to Graeme Swann as the lone spinner.
It will also be the first time that the new Power Play rule will be used in India. The batting side can now choose the timing of either the second or third Power Plays, of five overs each, both chosen earlier by the fielding side.
India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel, Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay.
England: Kevin Pietersen (captain), Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Andrew Flintoff, Samit Patel, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steve Harmison.
Umpires: Russel Tiffin (Zimbabwe) and Suresh Shastri (India)
Third Umpire: Amish Saheba (India)
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama (Sri Lanka)
Timings: 9 am to 12.30 pm; 1.10 pm to 4.40pm