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England look to spin to turn fortunes at Kanpur

Comprehensively beaten in Rajkot and Indore, England will require more than a spark of inspiration to defeat the buoyant Indian team in the third ODI of the Hero Honda Cup in Kanpur.

cricket Updated: Nov 19, 2008 16:32 IST

Comprehensively beaten in Rajkot and Indore, England will require more than a spark of inspiration to defeat the buoyant Indian team in the third One-day International of the Hero Honda Cup in Kanpur on Thursday.

Nothing has gone right for the visitors in the first two ODIs of the seven-match series but their biggest headache is how to stop Yuvraj Singh, who it seems has taken a disliking for Kevin Pietersen's side. The flamboyant left-hander stole the show in both the games, cracking two centuries and also taking four wickets in the second match.

England will be banking on the positives emerging out of the second ODI in Indore, where they had put an improved performance.

The bowlers started well by putting India on the mat early on, reducing them to 29 for four till their nemesis Yuvraj turned the tables. The England top order, too, gave a decent start but it was surely not a launchpad from where they could chase 292 on an unpredictable wicket.

Though captain Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff at one point threatened to come close to the target with some lusty hitting, but again Yuvraj was the saviour for India as he removed the duo in one over.

With Yuvraj in sensational form with the bat, England fast bowler Stuart Broad admitted that they will have to dismiss the left-hander as early as possible to fancy any chances of victory here. Broad was on the receiving end of six sixes against Yuvraj last year at the Twenty20 World Championship.

To turn the tables, England will choose a specialist spin bowler for the first time and if the selection of off-spinner and one-day specialist Graeme Swann does not reverse the fortunes then Monty Panesar, who is in the Test squad, may get a call-up in Bangalore.

England's thoughts turned towards spin, after left-arm seam bowler Ryan Sidebottom, who has been out with an injury, was sent for a scan on his lower back during practice session in Kanpur on Wednesday.

The visitors' other concern is also the form of the openers. Matt Prior has not done much and Ian Bell's reputation as a one-day player has also taken a beating.

If they want to match the Indian openers -- Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, who are on a roll, then they have to show some dynamism in experimenting with the openers. There is even talk of experimenting with Luke Wright and Alistair Cook.

In the last Test played in Kanpur, against South Africa in April, India prepared the pitch that favoured the spinners, who picked up 14 wickets in the match. It won't be any different this time also.

In such a situation, the hosts certainly have the edge but complacency can hit them.

It has been a smooth ride for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team in the series so far and every move of the skipper is clicking. But even when they are leading 2-0, India can't afford to relax.

The batting order will hardly undergo any change but fast bowler Ishant Sharma is likely to make a come back in the playing eleven.

Ishant, who missed the first two ODIs due to an ankle injury, has been assessed match-fit but the team management is yet to take a call on whether he will play here.

If Ishant returns, then either Munaf Patel or Rudra Pratap Singh will have to sit out. Rudra Pratap didn't look impressive and is likely to make way for Ishant.


India (from): Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain/wicketkeeper), Virender Sehwag (vice-captain), Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Pragyan Ojha, Rudra Pratap Singh, Munaf Patel, Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay.

England: Kevin Pietersen (captain), Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Andrew Flintoff, Samit Patel, James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Steve Harmison.

First Published: Nov 19, 2008 16:26 IST