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Skipper Cook needs to get his recipe right

india Updated: Oct 17, 2011 00:49 IST
Sourav Ganguly

It was a good toss to win in the first match of the series at Hyderabad and that earned India victory. Once again Mahendra Singh Dhoni showed how good an ODI player he is. Coming in to bat at 128 for 4, he assessed the situation well initially and then went for power hitting at the end.

It was very ordinary captaincy by England skipper, Alastair Cook. Though it's early days for Cook, he needs to be innovative and flexible, especially in the sub-continent, otherwise it's going to be a long hard series for him. I was very surprised not to see Ian Bell play. He is a must in Indian conditions, as he is a good player of spin and controls the innings well in the middle. The key England's success will depend on how well they play R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the series.

The shot-selection or the run-scoring options England took against spin were very ordinary. You can't keep hitting against spin and be successful. The English batsmen tried hitting Ashwin and Jadeja through the on-side, whereas Dhoni and Raina were the perfect examples of how to play with the turn. Dhoni hit left-arm spinner, Samit Patel, over extra-cover and Raina also did the same against Graeme Swann. Hope the visitors take a cue in the next game or else it will be a repetition of the previous match.

It's also important for Kevin Pietersen to fire. His approach to batting was not at all delightful. He has his own style of play, but I believe he needs to be more still at the crease in ODI cricket. He has to learn to build his innings in ODIs and bat 30-40 overs to get England to winning positions. For now, he doesn't have much control over his batting in the shorter version of the game.

The teams now move to Delhi for the second game. The Ferozshah pitch would probably be a bit flatter than the one in Hyderabad. It will be 'skiddy', where the ball will tend to come on to bat making playing shots a bit easier.

India looked a completely different side from the one that toured England, but one should not judge this team on the basis of home performance. For now, though, England have to play spin well if they want to match up to India at home.

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(The writer is a former India skipper and a TV commentator)