India start favourites after England's poor warm-ups
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:India v England
Event:England in India 2012/13

DateLine: 10th January 2013


India v England
1st ODI 2013
Match Preview


After a short Christmas break England and India will battle on once more in their five-match ODI series witrh the first match on 11 January 2013 in Rajkot. England secured a famous 2-1 win during the Test series earlier this winter before the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the T20 matches.


India have been desperately short of form lately but they start as favourites bidding to extend a record of five wins from six matches at the venue, including a comprehensive win over England five years ago. England will again have to reverse a dismal record on Indian soil as they haven't won a one-dayer there since 2006.


England's recent results in ODIs in India are quite woeful as they lost 6-1 in 2005/06, 5-0 in 2008 and 5-0 again in 2011. There is a feeling that the two teams are playing on more of a level playing field this time as they both struggle for form in the 50-over format. India lost an ODI series against bitter rivals Pakistan by a 2-1 margin recently, while England have been abysmal so far after the Christmas break, suffering two warm-up defeats after returning to India.


India's benched batsmen might be Virender Sehwag and Rohit Sharma. There are probabilities that Ravindra Jadeja might be in the team.


India have the batting line-up to get after England's bowlers but they have a few problems at the top of the order as Gautam Gambhir is scratching around for form, while Virender Sehwag and Rohit Sharma have been dropped after a dismal run of scores. Cheteshwar Pujara, who was so impressive in the Test series against England, receives a first ODI call-up after scoring 361 runs in India's domestic one-day trophy. Pujara is a man in form after scoring 203 off 221 balls in a Ranji Trophy match recently. Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir will be opening the batting line with the players under great pressure to do well. India need their batting line-up to click as MS Dhoni was the only batsman who resisted against Pakistan and did the most of the scoring himself.


Much depends on strike man Ishant Sharma, whose bowling has been fearsome against Pakistan. India must decide whether to go with three spinners in Ravi Ashwin, Amit Mishra and Ravi Jadeja or mix it up with Shami Ahmed or Bhuvneshwar Kumar, both pacers. The great ability of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar to swing the ball amazingly is surely an asset for the Indian team and will thus serve as a crucial part if they want to win the series and especially the first ODI.


Dhoni will fancy his side can get back to winning ways this week as home conditions should favour them against a weakened England side which look short of bowling options. India will look to get on top and will be confident of scoring plenty of runs against a wayward pace attack.


The tourists have suffered consecutive defeats in the warm-ups, first to India A and then to Delhi. It has not been the best of starts for Ashley Giles, the new ODI coach. Not only must he overcome a confidence-draining start, he must also convince his players that they can win in India. Still, the recent Test series triumph should help. Encouragingly, Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad are back to give much-needed class and experience to a squad with a green tinge.


England has much younger squad compared with the Indian side. Joe Root showed great performance against the Indian team in the Test series and may make an ODI debut in the first ODI. Ian Bell has been the man in form and hit 91 and 108 in the two tour matches but it remains to be seen whether the selectors will retain Bell as an opening batsman or restore the recalled Kevin Pietersen to the top of the order. Whatever the decision, this is starting to resemble one of the strongest One-Day batting orders that England have had for some time. Following Cook, Bell and Pietsersen, the explosive Eoin Morgan, will join the Somerset pair of Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter in a powerful middle order. Cook himself enjoyed a prolific year in 2012 and that included centuries in the one-day arena against the West Indies. Although he is primarily known as a Test match specialist, Cook scores quickly in the 50-over game.


India will face England's attack led by Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn and backed up by the spin of James Tredwell and Samit Patel. It looks an economical unit but can the English bowlers take enough wickets in the same way that the Pakistanis did a week or two ago? The bowling attack seems, on the surface, a little inexperienced with Graeme Swann and James Anderson both rested.


Considering the Rajkot pitch, it is generally characterised as slow in nature. The batsmen might have to struggle while the bowlers may extract some bounce. The 1st ODI between India and England will likely be a contest between the batsmen from England and the Indian bowlers. In case India's top order puts up a good total, the match may go their way.


India squad (from): MS Dhoni*†, R Ashwin, AB Dinda, G Gambhir, RA Jadeja, V Kohli, B Kumar, A Mishra, CA Pujara, AM Rahane, SK Raina, Shami Ahmed, I Sharma, RG Sharma, Yuvraj Singh


England squad (from): AN Cook*, IR Bell, TT Bresnan, DR Briggs, SCJ Broad, JC Buttler, JW Dernbach, ST Finn, C Kieswetter†, SC Meaker, EJG Morgan, SR Patel, KP Pietersen, JE Root, JC Tredwell, CR Woakes

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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