The India versus England One-day International series has been won and lost, and hence it’s time for enjoyment. So, nine fetched up for India at Saturday’s optional practice session at the Eden Gardens, and it didn’t include skipper Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and KL Rahul.
England trained in the afternoon with everyone available.
Shikhar Dhawan batted in the nets and an India team official confirmed the opener is fit and available. That could mean a problem of plenty Kohli wouldn’t mind on way to aiming for a 3-0 sweep of the one-day series.
After the 15-run win in Cuttack on Thursday, Kohli had spoken about the need to look at the opening pair. “…the key will be for us to express ourselves and work out what is the best opening partnership,” he had said.
HOPES FOR RAHANE
In Pune and Cuttack, India openers Dhawan and Rahul had added 13 and 14 respectively. Ajinkya Rahane was not included in either game. But irrespective of whether India look at Rahane, who had a long stint at the nets on Saturday morning along with Dhawan, this much is clear: the pressure is off.
“We will enjoy this game more than we did the last two,” said seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who bowled the last over in Cuttack on Thursday and sealed the deal for India.
“True, there is no pressure of winning the series but this is international cricket and you always want to win each and every game you play…Everyone will try to do their best because the pressure (of winning a series) isn’t there,” said Kumar, 26.
MS Dhoni had a close look at the pitch in the morning. It will be the same track which was used for the Test against New Zealand last September, one that lasted four days and had Kumar taking five for 69 in the first innings.
PREDICTING PITCH BEHAVIOUR
The last time Eden hosted an ODI, Rohit Sharma alone scored a world record 264. Since then, Eden has hosted six T20Is, one of which was abandoned due to a wet ground. In those 10 T20I innings, 200 was breached just once, by Pakistan against Bangladesh in the World T20. In the Indian Premier League, Kolkata Knight Riders seek to stifle the opposition here rather than drown them in fours and sixes.
Predicting pitch behaviour is fraught with danger at the best of times but at a time when Kumar said a score of 350 is the new normal --- it’s difficult because we come from an era where 250-300 was a par score, he said --- this wicket could have a little more for the bowlers than the last two games.
But for the team bowling second, dew would be a factor to contend with. These days, at least in eastern India, that too is par for the course so Kumar said they have been planning bowling yorkers with the wet ball.