The India-England series starts in Hyderabad on Friday and for the first time on Indian soil, an England ODI team will start on an even note. The reason I say this is because of the absence of a lot of senior pros due to injury and also the new-look India team. In the past, the England ODI teams have been simply blown away by India in this part of the world.
But it's different in this particular series. England want to portray an image of a team, which wants to change its dismal ODI record particularly in the sub-continent. The return of Kevin Pietersen will definitely bolster the team's power-hitting capability. England, in the past, had lacked players like Yuvraj, Dhoni, Raina who could clear the grounds at will, which is so important in ODI cricket. They now have a solid player in Bairstow. He showed tremendous temperament in the last ODI against India at Cardiff and also smashed a 50-ball hundred in a warm-up game in Hyderabad. He will be the man to watch along with Ravi Bopara. What may work for England is that they have played two warm-up games at the same venue.
I am very happy to see this very young India side. The young crop of fast bowlers needs a chance to show its talent, especially after the terrible bowling performance in England. The selectors also need to persist with these youngsters because the time has come to bring in fresh blood to take Indian cricket forward. It will be tough to bowl on flat wickets, and this will give youngsters an opportunity to learn the hard way, which is always a good thing.
I am surprised with the discussions taking place on Dhoni's captaincy. This is ridiculous. We all agree that India had a terrible season in England but judging him on the basis of that is unfair.
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(The writer is former India skipper and a TV commentator)