Preview: The hosts are in crisis, with three defeats in four ODIs
by Asher Wilson

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

DateLine: 14th January 2013


India v England
2nd ODI 2013
Match Preview


England take on India in the 2nd ODI of a five-match series, at the Jawaharlal Stadium in the southern city of Kochi, tomorrow. The hosts are in crisis, with three defeats in the last four ODIs at home. Dhoni has had little time to change things around since losing a three-match series to arch-rivals Pakistan and it reflected in Rajkot when they faced England in the 1st ODI of the ongoing series.


After years of embarrassment in the one-day arena on the subcontinent, the England side exacted a hard-fought victory against the Indians to go 1-0 up in the series. England skipper Alastair Cook is a man determined, in the same manner as he conducted himself in England’s historic test series victory last month. The more the odds are stacked against the prolific opener, the harder he struggles against them.


India may be in a state of disarray but are still formidable when the plan comes together but still they are missing the consistency in the batting department although half-centuries from Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, coupled with quick-fire innings from newcomer Ajinkya Rahane and Dhoni himself were not enough to overhaul England's 325.


The batsmen bullying opposition attacks on a flat track and then having their spinners turn the screws is not working out quite the way it has in the past. The track is Rajkot was a beauty for batsmen and few will begrudge the Indians conceding 300 on it. However, after tightening up a rollicking England start, the Indians conceded 38 from the final two overs, veteran Ishant Sharma going for 20 runs in the penultimate.


This would prove to be their undoing as they fell an agonizing nine runs short of England’s huge total of 325. Many in the Indian top order made good starts, even reached half-centuries, but none possessed the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Wickets fell in quick succession in the final 10 overs for India, but they will take heart from this encounter. If the selectors can look past sentimental choices, the future may not be as grim for the hosts as 2013 has suggested.


On the other hand for England a truly dominant display of limited overs batting allowed the visitors to squeeze their first one-day victory in India since 2006. Even that victory 6 years ago was an isolated incident in a 5-1 thrashing. The huge force that is the single-mindedness of their captain Alastair Cook manifests itself in quite surprising results for this English side. They’ve been dominant in world cricket in recent years but 2012 saw English cricket on the slide. There’s no man more prepared for victory against the odds than Cook. His 75 was instrumental in their large total, as was opening partner Ian Bell’s 85. This should now be considered the most dangerous opening partnership in the one-day game and it is critical to remove one, if not both, early if you do not wish to chase a mountain of a total. On top of that rapid contributions all down the order - Kevin Pietersen 44 (45), Eoin Morgan 41 (38), Craig Kieswetter 24 (20) and Samit Patel 44 (20) - meant England were simply unstoppable.


By contrast, the England bowlers were marginally better but, in the final analysis, it was the poor bowling in the first innings that gave Dhoni and the Indian batsman a target that was a tad beyond their best efforts. Most pleasing for England will be James Tredwell’s figures of 4-44 on an unresponsive track. He used flight and guile to his advantage and as an understudy to Graeme Swann, England have a highly skilled off-spinner. One can only imagine the strength of the number one side in the one-day game once their important rested players have returned. India may likely make a few changes for this match, with Shami Ahmed a possibility to replace the misfiring Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the seamer's department. Ahmed made his ODI debut in the recent series against Pakistan, finishing with figures of 1/23 which was an encouraging start to his career. The 22-year-old may not have experience but will be an unknown factor for England's batsmen to consider, at a time when the country's other bowlers are becoming a touch too predictable.


Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda may retain their places, with the latter the pick of the trio of seamers from the first match. He finished with 2/53 from eight overs. Sharma was poor but his combined haul of seven wickets for 109 runs from 29.2 overs in the three matches against Pakistan was brilliant enough to give him a second chance here.


Spin is a department that will worry Dhoni. Traditionally, the Indians produce fantastic spinners and they do have the very talented Ravichandran Ashwin. However, the off-spinner has been lackluster in recent games and although he still enjoys his captain's confidence, the south Indian will have to up his game to retain his place.


The Indians are unlikely to tamper with the batting and top order though, given the impressive performances in the first match. However, a point of concern will be middle-order specialist Virat Kohli. Traditionally a big-hitter and reliable run-getter, his form has dipped in recent games.


The England side is extremely unlikely to make any changes to their squad, unless injuries force Cook into substitutions.


Teams (Probable):


India: G Gambhir, A Rahane, V Kohli, Y Singh, S Raina, MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, A Dinda, I Sharma, S Ahmed


England: A Cook, I Bell, K Pietersen, E Morgan, C Kiestwetter, S Patel, J Root, T Bresnan, J Tredwell, S Finn, J Dernbach

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