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By Chetan Narula
Nottingham: Aug 29, 2014
Buoyed by their big victory that was achieved on the back of a clinical all-round display, a rejuvenated India will look to continue the winning momentum and take an unassailable 2-0 lead when they lock horns with England in the third One-Day International (ODI) on Saturday.
The first ODI in Bristol was abandoned without a ball being bowled and India hammered the hosts by 133 runs (D/L) in the second game in Cardiff to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.
Having recorded his first century outside the sub continent with a blazing 75-ball 100, Suresh Raina will look to carry on in same fashion while Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the bowlers in the second game. The two teams have played at Trent Bridge earlier this summer and there were two resultants from that first Test here.
First, the pitch for that match was deemed poor by the match referee David Boon and the groundsman received an official warning from the ICC. There was nothing in it for the bowlers who toiled hard as the batsmen, mostly tailenders from both sides made merry.
If a similar pitch is doled out for this ODI match though, no one will be complaining as the weekend crowd will get to see a high scoring encounter, hopefully with the top-order scoring this time around.
The second resultant though had more far reaching consequences on how that Test series panned out. The Ravindra Jadeja-James Anderson clash has only recently receded from memory and this match has come about to enliven the episode again.
The Indian management had pressed ahead in their bid to get the fast bowler banned for allegedly pushing Jadeja, so much so that they lost focus on the task at hand and lost the series 1-3 despite taking a 1-0 lead.
As the two teams walk through that infamous narrow corridor of the pavilion at Trent Bridge, they will feel differently about that episode. India will feel that they have a point to prove. The format has changed, and as was apparent in Cardiff, they clearly hold the edge over England in limited-overs cricket. They cannot lose steam and instead must go for jugular, for this is not about revenge for the Test series loss.
Instead this is about building up to the ICC World Cup 2015 and registering as many consistent performances as they can in the next six months.
In that light, India’s success at Cardiff was a great starting point. Four of the six batsmen scored runs. Among them, it was vital for Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane to come good. There were question marks whether the former was the right-fit as opener in overseas ODI cricket, while the clock was beginning to tick on the latter’s role as the number four bat. In scoring 52 and 41 runs respectively, they have bought some time for themselves and reduced one area of concern for the management.
Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had confirmed after the match that Raina will continue to bat at number five and this declaration sews up the batting order. The worrying bit is about Shikhar Dhawan’s form and that Virat Kohli has not been able to buy a run on this tour. Read more on how Suresh Raina dealt with short-ball menace
While India will surely be patient with their vice-captain, the same cannot be said about the left-hander.
In New Zealand, Dhawan had been dropped once during the five-ODI series and Kohli had opened the innings. Such a move is unfathomable now, but with scores of 12, 0, 32, 12, 28, 9 and 11 (7 innings in South Africa, New Zealand and England) in conditions that will be similar to the World Cup, the attacking opener is not doing himself any favours.
For once, India’s bowling attack isn’t a cause for concern. However it will be interesting to watch how the bowlers will cope if they are met with an unhelpful track at Trent Bridge.
To a certain extent, their frailties were hidden by the friendly conditions at Cardiff, not to mention that England are a bit of a mess as an ODI outfit at the moment. Even so, their success will mean that there might not be any changes to the playing XI, meaning Umesh Yadav will have to wait longer for his chance in all probability.
Meanwhile, it can be said that after a massive loss in the previous game, the euphoria of the Test series will have died down. As much as they care about the longer format, the English team management’s sole focus now is on the upcoming World Cup and their performance at Cardiff belied any serious preparations they had made so far.
Alex Hales and Chris Woakes were the two positives from that second ODI but the rest of the team simply failed to turn up.
While there is already criticism coming about from ex-cricketers about their plans for the World Cup, Alastair Cook and his supporting staff have firm calculations in their minds.
Following England’s abject surrender, former great Ian Botham lashed out at the home team and the criticism is ringing in the players’ ears as they get ready to take the field.
For a team in their situation, the best remedy is to make changes. While they are missing Stuart Broad already, it will be asking too much for them to play two spinners against India. Their most plausible change could be bringing in Steve Finn for the off-colour Chris Jordan.
For some inspiration though, they will look at James Anderson again. The fast bowler will have shrugged off unwanted memories from that ‘pushgate’ scandal, but it remains to be seen whether returning to the scene of the incident can fire him up enough once again and carry his team forward.
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