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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

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Kochi heat will test England, mentally and physically
Sourav Ganguly, Hindustan Times
January 15, 2013
First Published: 00:32 IST(15/1/2013)
Last Updated: 11:14 IST(15/1/2013)
Mahendra Singh Dhoni against Pakistan during the first ODI at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai. HT Photo/Mohd Zakir

Kochi is a must-win game for Dhoni and his boys because if they go down 0-2 in the series, it will be tough to come back and win three matches in a row.

Obviously, India will be geared up because they nearly chased down 325 in the first game, and though the Rajkot pitch lasted the 100 overs, chasing 300 is not easy.

Both teams will be expecting another belter, though I am not sure if the Kochi wicket will last till the end.

Firstly, matches are not played here regularly and because of the heat the wicket is bound to break up somewhat, providing assistance to the spinners as the game goes on. It will be an important toss to win for both captains, and whoever wins it will bat first.

Both sides don't have too many options of changing the XI, which did duty in Rajkot. Pujara will stay put on the bench for some time but it's a positive for the team, as no one will think about relaxing. The spinners will have a part to play and Dhoni will need a good show, especially from Ashwin.

England will not only be challenged by the Indians, they will also have to fight the heat. Cook will be desperate to win the toss because if England field first, India's job will be half done.

England surprised in the Test series and I will be watching to find out how they come through in the Kochi heat to prove their mental and physical toughness.

They have called in Bopara but I don't think they will change the Rajkot XI. Root is a good option as the second spinner and his spell will be crucial, especially when the pitch will tend to get slow and the ball will stop and come.

England will need to use Dernbach properly. He doesn't seem to have much control with the new ball and if his ability at the death is the factor for him to be in the XI, the new ball can be thrown to Finn and Bresnan.

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The writer is a former India  captain


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