Preview: India eyes series clean sweep against listless England

India thrashed England by six-wickets on Sunday to go 4-0 up in the ODI series Getty Images

By Tapan K Mohanta

Kolkata: Oct 24, 2011

High on confidence, a dominant India will push for a 5-0 clean sweep when they lock horns with a hapless England in the fifth and final cricket one-dayer at the Eden Gardens on Tuesday.

A discliplined show in all the departments has been the highlight of India’s 4-0 triumph so far and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men would look to continue their dominant show tomorrow in what has been billed as the ‘payback series’.

“We will try to go for 5-0. If we play good cricket, things will go our way but again the important thing is to do our best,” Dhoni said on Sunday night after India thrashed England by six-wickets to go 4-0 up in the series.

Right from batting to bowling and fielding, India have shown near-perfection something that unmistakably favours towards a 5-0 whitewash and the setting would just be ideal for a Diwali eve celebration.

While India shone bright, the Englishmen, on the other hand, have failed to show the right body language throughout the series for a meek surrender on Indian soil.

It was in sharp contrast of their show in England where they had vanquished India in the same manner in both Test and one-day cricket.

No doubt there has been the huge advantage of the home condition but coach Duncan Fletcher, having tasted defeat in England, would definitely be pleased that the youngsters have shown tremendous character in the series so far.

Be it Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane or Jharkhand pacer Varun Aaron who had a splendid debut last night, the youngsters have shown hunger and equal finesse while the seniors, in absence of several key players of the World Cup winning side, have backed themselves well.

As India have dished out a dominating show so far, England had come close to winning in Mohali posting a challenging target of 299.

But the 21-year-old Rahane, the lone Mumbai face in the Indian line-up, grabbed the opportunity with both hands for a match-winning 91 that earned him the Man of the Match award.

While he set the platform for the tall chase, Gautam Gambhir provided the key support and Dhoni steered the team home to clinch the series after winning the third one-day in Mohali.

Last night in Mumbai, India had another stupendous performance from a rookie Aaron, dubbed as India’s fastest bowler after clocking 150-plus in a domestic match.

It was a perfect debut for the bowler who thrives on sheer pace and bounce as he wiped out the English tail with a splendid 3/24 from 6.1 overs at the Wankhede stadium.

He generated enough bounce, pace and was good in reverse swing as all his three dismissals came by clean bowling the batsmen.

Aaron was not short on pace either as he consitently notched 140kph mark providing the sting to the newlook Indian pace attack in absence of Zaheer Khan.

Dhoni was all praise for the young bowler.

“He bowled a bit quicker than some of the other Indians.

He was consistently around the 140 mark. It’s good to see some of the younger fast bowlers coming in and putting in a bit of effort and bowling at more than 135 kms per hour,” Dhoni said.

Pace spearhead Praveen Kumar and R Vinay Kumar have done the task well as India have not looked short of ammunition in the pace line-up as the duo have stuck to discipline without doing anything extravagant.

But it’s Delhi youngster Virat Kohli who has evolved into a key Indian batsman with consistent performances.

With scores of 37, 112 not out, 35, 86 not out in India’s four back to back wins, Kohli has stamped his class and it would be a fitting occasion for him having scored his maiden century at the same venue in Eden Gardens.

Groomed under the likes of his statemate Virender Sehwag and masterclass Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli has showed the potential to go to the top tier after making his one-day debut three years ago.

From 68 ODIs, Kohli who will turn 23 next month, averages 46.73 with seven centuries as he completed 1,000 runs in this calendar year during his knock of 112 not out in Delhi.

With statemate Gambhir and Suresh Raina, the Delhi youngster form the core of Indian batting line-up that misses the class of Tendulkar and Sehwag in the ongoing series.

In spin department sans ace off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have done their task impeccebaly. The duo have shared 14 wickets among themselves from four matches which has been an ingredient of India’s success against the spin-weary Englishmen.

Fielding too has been impeccable by the Indians and Dhoni was all praise for the young side.

Incidentally, the Eden will host India for the first time after the memorable win against Sri Lanka in 2009 Christmas eve. The refurbished Eden Gardens could not host the scheduled India-England World Cup fixture after being ruled out because of unpreparedness for the World Cup.

The grand stadium hosted other teams in the World Cup but not India so it would be another fitting occasion for the 64,000 capacity Eden to offer the home side a chance to clinch the series in style on Diwali eve.

Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary has been used as a substitue so far in the series and it remains to be seen if the Indian thinktank gives him a chance on his home ground in Kolkata.

Opener Parthiv Patel, who is yet to click with the bat, may give the only available option for Dhoni to ponder upon.

England, meanwhile, have been without their pace duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad and it has left them with a weakened pace attack. The visitors have shown a poor display with the bat as well.

Without any consistency after good starts, the Jonathan Trotts, Kevin Peitersens have let down England in a big way and left skipper Cook frustrated.

“It’s quite frustrating. We have not performed at the level we had done recently. We can’t fault training, effort or desire or commitment. We are performing anywhere near to what we can do,” said Cook after their six-wicket loss last night.

It’s still a mystery why England is yet to bring in Ian Bell to their batting line-up and it remains to be seen if he is included in the last match of the ODI series that will give England a chance to restore some pride before the one-off Twenty20 on October 29. (PTI)


India: Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, R Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Varun Aaron.

England: Alastair Cook (c), Craig Kieswetter (wk), Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Ravi Bopara, Jonny Bairstow, Samit Patel, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Meaker, Steve Finn, Scott Borthwick.

Field Umpires: Billy Bowden, Sudhir Asnani.

Third Umpire: S Ravi.

Fourth Umpire: Vineet Kulkarni.

Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.

Time: 14:30 local (09:00 GMT)