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Hope springs at Bristol

cricket Updated: Aug 24, 2007 11:39 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
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Nothing went right for the Indians at the Rose Bowl. They started the NatWest Series disastrously, losing to England by 104 runs.

All is not lost, though. This being a seven-game series, the team can afford the luxury of having one bad day in the office, when everyone seems off-colour. Hopefully, Tuesday was that day for India. They will have to forget the Southampton thumping and level the series when the teams square up at the County Ground here on Friday.

Rahul Dravid's boys couldn't have asked for a better venue going into the game. India have scored 300-plus in the two games they have played here, against Kenya in 1999 and Sri Lanka in 2002, winning easily both times.

Moreover, the ground is one of the smaller venues in England, reminiscent of some of the grounds in India. The weather on Friday, too, is expected to be as sunny as it was on Thursday. All that could work in India’s favour.

Team combination conundrum

A lot of fingers were pointed at team selection in the wake of the defeat at Southampton. Skipper Rahul Dravid, however, said that one loss is not the right reason for change that change must be made on form and conditions.

"The change of combination is not about one bad match, it is about who's playing well or not playing well."

Dravid, however, admitted that the batting line-up could change. Dinesh Karthik, who came in to bat at No. 7 on Tuesday, could be promoted up the order to No. 3, where Gautam Gambhir hardly looked convincing. "We will certainly consider that option, when he (Karthik) came in to bat on Tuesday, the match was almost over."

While he didn't disclose the playing eleven, or for that matter, the final twelve, he said that the option of going in with five bowlers, instead of four, was always open. "If that happens, probably Gautam would be unfortunate to miss out," Dravid admitted.

Considering that it is a small ground, India are unlikely to go in with two spinners. Munaf Patel who, according to Dravid, “has bowled well in both the matches and at nets”, could be given a look-in, in place of either Zaheer Khan or RP Singh.

Health worries

The Indian team management, who were joined by selectors Sanjay Jagdale and Ranjib Biswal on Wednesday, also had reasons to worry about the health of five players.

Though all 15 players turned up for the net session on Thursday afternoon, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, RP Singh and Ajit Agarkar were suffering mild fever and were advised rest.

"As a precautionary measure, all of them have been told to rest due to cold and body ache," administrative manager Rajiv Shukla said. Shukla, though, allayed fears of them missing out on Friday, assuring all of them would be available for selection.

England likely to be unchanged

Meanwhile, England are not likely to change their winning combination. Rookie fast bowler Stuart Broad summed up the mood in the England camp on Thursday, saying: "It's a confident camp at the moment, there is a lot of energy, so it's exciting to play. We put in a great performance at the Rose Bowl and hope to match that here."