Hit by Indian spinners in both their warm-up games against India A, England batsmen will be acutely aware of their frailties as they head into the ODI series despite the 1-1 scoreline at the Brabourne Stadium.
The England batsmen don’t need to look any further than the scorecard of the last one-day match played in India to realise the challenge that awaits them in the ODI series when they go up against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Going into that game, played in October at the Andhra Cricket Association Stadium, Visakhapatnam, India and New Zealand were locked at 2-2 in the series. The turf offered a bit more help for the tweakers than earlier matches and Amit Mishra didn’t need a second invitation. The leg-spinner ran through the hapless New Zealand batting line-up, making it a no-contest with five wickets for 18 runs in six overs.
The Kiwis would still have left the Indian shores happy because overall they had some respite as the Indian selectors had rested Ashwin and Jadeja. In the upcoming series, England are being offered no such breathing space as the duo will lead the Indian attack in the first ODI at Pune on Sunday.
Ashwin, Jadeja threat
Jonny Bairstow, England’s highest scorer in Thursday’s warm-up game against India ‘A’ with 64 (65 balls), is under no illusion about the task on hand.
“I have faced Ashwin and Jadeja in Test matches (that preceded the limited-overs part of the visit). We know they have got skills which are well documented. It’s a great challenge,” said Bairstow, after seeing his batsmen struggle against the India A spin pair of Shahbaz Nadeem and Parvez Rasool at the Brabourne Stadium.
Ashwin and Jadeja had spun India to a 4-0 rout of England in the Test series, claiming 28 and 26 wickets respectively.
England were off to a strong start and were 116 for one at one stage. But once India A captain Ajinkya Rahane introduced a double-spin attack, the visitors found the going tough. They slumped to 211 for nine before the last-wicket pair gave their total respectability with a 71-run partnership.
In the first warm-up game too, though England won, they had some anxious moments against the spin of chinaman bowler, Kuldeep Yadav, who finished with a five-wicket haul.
Bairstow, who is among England’s in-form batsmen and gave a good account of himself in the Test series, scoring 352 runs, equated the challenge of spin to the swinging ball for Indian batsmen in England.
“I am sure when India come over to England with the white ball swinging, their batsmen also look at it as a challenge,” he said.
It is natural the defeat would have dented the confidence of the visitors, but the England star played down the impact of Thursday’s six-wicket defeat.
“We scored 300 nearly twice. I don’t think it’s of concern. As a side we are doing very well and are scoring 300 regularly. But in a way it was a good thing it (loss) happened here than in Pune. It gives us time to refocus, kick our backside a bit before we go to Pune.”