It's ironical how Eden Gardens had lamented the loss of this fixture to Bangalore during the World Cup. Six-and-a-half months later, when India are eyeing a whitewash of England in the fifth and final one-dayer on Tuesday, there are few takers.
The absence of top stars in the
India team, a series of one-sided matches and a Diwali-eve date, have added to this apathy. Never has a one-dayer at Eden featuring India generated such a tepid response, given the fact that this is the city's first opportunity to see the World Cup champions in action.
For the teams though there are still a few things to look forward to. For England, avoiding a 0-5 result tops the list. Alastair Cook wasn't convincing when for the umpteenth time on Sunday evening he said his boys were positive and desperate for victory. Even the skipper failed to justify the batting failures.
But the intent showed when the think-tank, led by coach Andy Flower and bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, came for a close look at the Eden wicket, soon after landing in the afternoon. A long discussion followed with the former Pakistan leg-spinner animatedly trying to make a point, which could be the second on the list of priorities.
Having lost the series at Mohali, England tried out leg-spinner Scott Borthwick in Mumbai on Sunday. He conceded 59 off eight overs without success but that should not go against the 21-year-old when England decide the 11 for Tuesday. Borthwick had to fill in Graeme Swann's shoes on Sunday and the attacking field that was given to him, because the visitors were looking for wickets, ended with a expensive spell.
Time to test young blood at Eden
For India, a 5-0 whitewash could be a temporary solace to the disastrous summer in England and an apt answer to the words exchanged on the field, especially when the hosts were batting.
The series already in the pocket, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the opportunity to try out some more youngsters in his already young side. But too many changes seemed unlikely.
All eyes will be on Varun Aaron, who has raised expectations with a good show on debut, especially with the old ball in Mumbai. The outing should give him confidence when he steams in on an Eden wicket which looks to have a lot more carry than the Wankhede strip.
The other player itching to get in would be Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary. Parthiv Patel, who has failed as an opener in this series, looks the only opening. But Tiwary won't mind that even if it means he has to sacrifice his No. 4 slot.
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