England v India, 3rd ODI, The OvalDemoralised India Seek First Victory in England09-Sep-2011 05:28:00 GMT
London: The horror seems far from over as an injury-ravaged Indian team gears up for the third one-dayer against England on Friday, still looking for that elusive win which would lift the sagging morale of the battle-weary side.
Trailing 0-1 in the five-match series after being whitewashed 0-4 in the Tests, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men have reasons to feel fatalistic ahead of the day-night encounter.
The visitors are worried on the count of lack of bowling firepower in their ranks and are resigned to the fact England would chase down any total they can rustle up in remaining one-dayers.
Dhoni laid himself bare to media after losing the second one-dayer at Rose Bowl on Tuesday, fretting about the sameness of his fast bowlers and their general lack of pace.
"If it doesn't swing, we struggle. Most of our bowlers are in the 120-130 kmph range and it becomes very difficult," or words to similar effect was Dhoni's lament and Friday could just make his worst fears come true.
The pitch at the Oval offers bounce but no sideways movement and the gentle pace of Indian seamers could turn out to be fodder for England batsmen.
Dhoni concedes Praveen Kumar is not his best option in death overs and he is forced to keep Munaf Patel a lot towards the end than in the initial overs.
If India can't strike early, it is a given that the rest of the overs would be savaged by the in-form England batsmen.
A similar thing occurred in the second one-dayer where India ran up a decent total but were powerless to stop England from romping home with seven wickets to spare.
The crushing dominance was evident when England were 100 up on the board with 10 full overs yet to be completed.
As if this was not enough, India are also worried on the count of fifth bowler's quota -- a job Yuvraj Singh used to do with such aplomb in the past.
In the rain-hit second match, it fell on Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to do the job but it would be beyond them to remain useful over a stretch of 10 overs.
That makes the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja a strong possibility. The Gujarat all-rounder is a useful left-arm spinner and can add up a decent package with his notable fielding and batting.
His inclusion would almost surely bring the aspirations of Manoj Tiwary for the rest of the series to a premature end.
Ironically, India's batting showed little effect of downturn despite losing so many stalwarts up the order.
Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane have been startlingly good up the order. Virat Kohli has shown good intent and Suresh Raina is laying about the bowling with a streak of vengeance.
Thus England could sense a killing in the rest of the matches. The pitches at the remaining three venues are unlikely to help seam and swing.
Indians might be a depleted lot but England would take immense delight in prevailing over the visitors and ending the summer in style.
England wouldn't take their foot off the pedal for it's a good practice opportunity for them to iron out their one-day follies.
If the weather proves as good as the forecasts suggests so there should be a 50-over contest at The Oval and England will bring Jonathan Trott back to No. 3. That will reopen the obligatory debate about his scoring rate but will may also force Samit Patel out the side. Patel took five wickets in his last ODI appearance at The Oval in 2008 so has fond memories. If England prefer his spin option, Bopara could miss out.
India's search for a fifth bowler means Ravindra Jadeja could come into the side ahead of one of the batsmen that played at the Rose Bowl, most likely Manoj Tiwary. Vinay Kumar could also miss out for RP Singh.
England Alastrial Cook (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Samit Patel, Ben Stokes, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.
India MS Dhoni (capt & wk), Ajiayna Rahane, Parthiv Patel (wk), Suresh Raina (wk), S Badrinath, Rahul Dravid, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Munaf Patel, R Ashwin, RP Singh, Manaf Tiwary, R Vinay Kumar, Varun Aaron
Pitch and conditions
The weather is set to be much improved at The Oval. 'Sunny intervals' and a temperature high of 23 degrees is sweet relief after the damp encounters in Durham and Southampton. None the less by the time evening draws in it will be cold in London. The Oval should prove a good pitch for the batsmen but evening dew is always something for the captains to consider.
Stats and trivia
- England have won four of their seven ODI games against India at The Oval but lost a high-scoring thriller the last times the teams met here in 2007.
- From that team in 2007 India have only two surviving players - MS Dhoni and Rahul Dravid.
- If England win at The Oval it will be their fifth successive victory in completed ODI games
Friday September 9, 2011 (day/nigt)
Start time 1400 local (1300 GMT, 18:30 IST)