Rain threat to Bangalore one-dayer (Preview)

November 22nd, 2008 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Nov 22 (IANS) If fading light had deprived England of a seemingly possible win at Kanpur, a persistent drizzle here dampened their already soggy spirits of making a comeback in the seven-match ODI series against India. For, even as Kevin Pietersen led his disillusioned troops into the Chinnaswamy stadium, rain clouds swirled over the garden city, threatening to wash out the fourth one-dayer Sunday.With the weatherman forecasting thundershowers, there is a slim chance of the match getting under way. Even if the weather Gods relent, at best it could be a truncated game, considering that the outfield has been saturated with water since Saturday morning. This leaves England in the doldrums, a situation they have played themselves into with poor batting and management, though umpires Russell Tiffin and Amiesh Sahiba could partly be blamed for their plight by offering the light to the Indian batsmen at Kanpur.

In the eventuality of a no-result, England, already 0-3 down, would have to produce their best cricket in the remainder of the series and win at Cuttack (Nov 26), Guwahati (Nov 29) and Delhi (Dec 2) to keep their pride intact. But considering the way their top-order batsmen have pondered and plodded, it is unlikely that these ink blue-clad Englishmen would challenge India.

To redeem England’s failing fortunes, which are as gloomy and wobbly as the global recession, Pietersen has asked his frontline batters to produce big scores, which he himself has been unable to mint. Interestingly only players of Asian origin — Ravi Bopara (54, 3, 60), Owais Shah (0, 58, 40) and Samit Patel (28, 20, 26) have been relatively consistent, while Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff have yet to make their skills and experience count.

England have lost 55 per cent of their 68 matches against India (30 wins, 36 defeats) and have scarcely challenged India since clinching the thrilling seven-match series (4-3) at Lord’s. The score reads 6-4 in India’s favour since September 2007.

Though the bowlers have contributed their mite, India’s success in limited-overs cricket has been driven by the batsmen. Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh have virtually torn apart every attack in the world, making runs galore since the Twenty20 World Cup triumph in the African bushveld. Yuvraj has been imperious, peeling out hundreds with regularity which can be associated to Sachin Tendulkar’s run-spree in 1998.

That Pietersen has admitted he would be happy to lock up Yuvraj in itself shows the psyche of the Englishmen. The feisty left-hander has terrorised their bowling attack since producing those intoxicating six sixes off Stuart Broad in the Twenty20 World Cup.

Though the team management would sweat over at which number Tendulkar would bat, the master’s return would strengthen the Indian batting which, as it is, has been at its full steam in the series. Considering that Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have gelled as openers, the Mumbaikar would probably bat at no. three, replacing Suresh Raina who has failed to deliver in the last two games at Indore and Kanpur.

If England dare to stop Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s steamrollering legion in its track, Collingwood, Flintoff and Pietersen would have to produce blistering knocks which they immensely capable of. But for the trio to fire their side back into contention, the English have to pray as fervently as the Bangalore fans for the match to get under way.

India: Mahender Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma, MUnaf Patel, Irfan Pathan, Virat Kohli, Pragyan Ojha.

England: Kevin Pietersen (capt), Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steve Harminson, Luke Wrighht, Ryan Sidebottom, Alastair Cook.

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