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India tour of England 2014: 5 key battles to watch out for in Cardiff

Alex Hales will finally make his ODI debut after the first was abandoned without a ball bowled due to rain © Getty Images
Alex Hales will finally make his ODI debut after the first was abandoned without a ball bowled due to rain © Getty Images

Cardiff awaits India and England for the second One-Day International (ODI) battle after the 1st ODI was washed away without a ball being bowled in Bristol. With lots of interesting contests in store, R Vishal looks into some of the key battles ahead of the clash that will set the tempo in the series.

India would like to believe that they begin their ODI account with a clean slate staring on Wednesday with every step taken having pride firmly stitched in their front pocket. As the tale goes, after a miserable eight months, England have found the spring in their step after brushing aside the visitors in three consecutive Test matches.

ODIs have often proved to be England’s Achilles heel in the past. The Men in Blue will be encouraged to learn about this. As for England, the World Champions’ has gone south in the ODIs too after their Champions Trophy 2013 win in the Old Blighty. India came a cropper in the 50-over format too in their last two travels — in South Africa and New Zealand. Here is a list of five of the key battles that is sure to mouth watering for fans from both sides:

Bhuvneshwar Kumar  vs Alastair Cook: English skipper Alastair Cook has been rattled by the outswinger before and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s crafty medium-pacers have outsmarted Cook in the Tests too. With the southpaw getting a new lease of life after enduring a torrid run, he will certainly hold the advantage going into this battle. Bhuvneshwar’s immaculate precision though, looks like a frontrunner to win this battle.

Alex Hales vs Umesh Yadav: If the match takes place, bloodthirsty Alex Hales will be making his ODI debut. Hales is no stranger to international cricket and has played and proved his mettle against some of the best in the world in T20s — for England and franchise cricket already. Umesh Yadav, on the other hand will be tested but he should get some assistance from the pitch. Hales’ long hands holds the aces in this battle and anything pitched short will end up in the stands over deep mid-wicket.

James Anderson vs Virat Kohli/Shikhar Dhawan: James Anderson made mincemeat out of Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in the Tests but if records are anything to go by, the Indian duo are a step ahead of Anderson in this battle. Anderson has been culpable of having a hurried approach and bowling too full in ODI cricket, which is a stark contrast from his immaculate length in Tests.  Anderson clearly has the psychological edge having made Virat his bunny time and again.

Steven Finn vs Suresh Raina: Steven Finn makes a comeback into the side and was impressive in the warm-up game against Middlesex. Suresh Raina’s discomfort against sharp pace and bounce in particular will be tested to the hilt. It should come as no surprise if Raina is greeted with a barrage of bouncers. The pressure will be on Finn here though, who is fighting for his future.

Eoin Morgan vs Indian spinners: It remains to be seen the combination that MS Dhoni is going to go for. Whether its Ravindra Jadeja or Ravichandran Ashwin, Morgan’s creative strokeplay will make for compelling viewing. An Ashwin vs Morgan battle in particular will be a standout as the batsman and the bowler prioritise variety above most things in their craft.

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)

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