One-dayers dawn with a new day

Updated on Aug 21, 2007 01:41 PM IST

Eight of the 15-man Indian squad for the series did not feature in the Tests, reports A Karhadkar.Head-to-head

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Hindustan Times | ByAmol Karhadkar, Southampton

The result of the Test series doesn't matter now. For the NatWest Series, which begins in Southampton at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday, in the squad of 15, India have eight men who did not feature in the Tests.

Then, England's morale is boosted by the return of Andrew Flintoff, who has recovered after undergoing an ankle surgery.

"We have got down from the high of the Test series win," Indian skipper Rahul Dravid said on Monday. "The chill of Scotland brought us down quickly. What's happened in the Tests is over. We have had a good week where we played a couple of games. We would have loved to have a bit more practice, obviously."

On the eve of the first match, a day-night tie, India were back to getting their balance right. The big question was whether they would opt for seven batsmen or decide to go in with five specialist bowlers.

Going by their recent record, it looks unlikely that India will go in five bowlers --- something they actually had opted to do against England Lions at Northampton on Saturday.

That takes us to the next big question: Should they play both their spinners or go in with two fast bowlers and two spinners?

The combination of leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and off-spinner Ramesh Chawla not only impressed in Northampton against the Lions, the former had also played a crucial role in India's series win over South Africa in Belfast.

And with Zaheer Khan and Rudra Pratap Singh having bowled 350-plus overs on the tour so far and Munaf Patel still not appearing to be 100 per cent, it may be a bad idea to include both the spinners in the eleven on Tuesday.

Dravid, however, was non-committal on it, though he backed Munaf all the way. Assessing the performance of Munaf and Ajit Agarkar, both of whom were called for the one-dayers, Dravid said: "Both have just started. Ajit's a lot more experienced and more successful one-day bowler for us. He has found the transition a lot easier and he's been playing only one-day cricket for a year and a half now."

The skipper then launched a defence of Munaf, who was hit all over the park by the young England batsmen.

"Munaf is coming back from injury. He'll probably take a little more time. On a flat wicket, at Northampton, it wasn't easy bowling against the wind," he said. "He's probably been our most economical one-day bowler over the last year. Him being back to form and fitness will be important for us in the long run. We'll have to give him a bit more time to get there."

That brings us to the batting order. Dravid didn't have much doubts about it, though.

"I have moved myself around a bit, ensuring the top order doesn't become heavy with experience," he said. "Sachin (Tendulkar) and Sourav did really well in Ireland, probably that's what we'll stick with. We have to see that Yuvraj gets a lot of opportunities. He is an exciting ODI player, so it will be better for his development and ours as a team."

"During the course of the series, we'll give him opportunities to bat a lot more overs and show he can win matches on his own," he added. "We also have to give youngsters more opportunities."

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