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Old haunt, few hopefuls

cricket Updated: Sep 11, 2011 01:25 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
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With each game in the one-day series, India have got closer to England but victory remains elusive. Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team return to the stage from where they started the beleaguered tour.

It was at Lord's where it all started to go wrong. England hit India with such force that in two months since then, the subcontinent giants have been reduced to rubble. They had started the campaign as favourites, being the No 1 ranked side, and they went on to lose all their Tests. They are the 50-overs World Champions and have lost all their limited-overs matches so far.


Sunday's game is India's last hope of salvaging something from the series. They have to win the fourth game to have a chance to draw the ODI series. A win for England will give them an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Will Lord's be the venue from where Dhoni will lead the turnaround? He came here as the captain with the Midas touch. As it is said, cricket is a great leveller, and Dhoni would have learnt more about the game in these two months than in his three years as captain.

The last time Indian cricket met with such a disaster was in Australia in 1999-2000. That experience toughened that batch and helped them come back stronger. The Test team became No 1 spot in 2009 but the seeds of the rise were sown in that 3-0 whitewash as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble took it upon them to take the team forward.

Onus on the young
The senior group, which also faced this humiliation, will not be around for too long. The onus is on the young members now but it is proving to be a tough learning curve for them. The Oval defeat, their third on the trot, would have shaken their confidence. It was hoped the new faces would infuse fresh vigour in the team, that their exuberance would bring a change in attitude.

The batsmen had flourished on flat wickets but once given a taste of true English conditions on Friday, they buckled as their seniors did in the Tests.

Parthiv Patel has been there long enough to cope with the setback but Ajinkya Rahane's response to his first failure in international cricket will tell about his temperament. A good start will be the key if India are to post a challenging total at Lord's.


India will be encouraged by their bowlers' performance. For the first time in the series, England batsmen were under some pressure. Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has solved the fifth bowler's problem and with offie R Ashwin regaining form and confidence, the team could apply the brakes at both ends. However, the key will be to click as a unit.

The spin attack has to be backed by the pace bowlers. England openers Cook and Kieswetter have been transferring the pressure back on India with strong starts. To unlock the England batting, early breakthroughs with the new ball are vital.

India will also hope for a change of luck with the toss. They have lost all the matches batting first, may be chasing will bring in a change in fortune.