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India meet host Eng in first game of 5 match ODI series today

World champions will be under pressure to put up an improved show in ODIs. Sanjjeev K Samyal writes. Match reckoner | Five things India could look forward to

india Updated: Sep 03, 2011 10:34 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
Sanjjeev K Samyal,Chester Le Street,indvseng2011

It's amazing how quickly equations change in cricket, and how much the conditions count. India became world champions of the 50-over format five months ago, but it will be England who will start favourites in the five-match ODI series, which starts on Saturday.

The momentum is with the home team after their dominating show in the Tests and the grey cloud cover provides the ideal setting for England's pace arsenal. For the visitors, it's a desperate situation, as a debacle in the ODI series following the Test humiliation will be disastrous. The repercussions will be unimaginable.

Pressure on India
More than on the field, it will be off-the-field pressures that will be playing on Dhoni and Co's mind when they take the field on Saturday. It's the ability to block the negative thoughts that will be their main test. The fact that they are yet to take a game off England in the series will weigh heavily. Like winning, losing can also become a habit, as was seen in the T20 game at Old Trafford where India seemed to find ways to lose the plot.

To turn things around, India have to find a way to reverse the momentum early. They only need to look at the just concluded Test series to understand the importance of the first game. They fell behind at Lord's and never recovered. India have a good record of coming back, but this England team has a ruthless streak.

Hosts more balanced
India have quite a few seasoned campaigners, like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Dhoni, but the home team is a better balanced side. Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan are England's X-factor. They made the difference in Tests and can tilt the balance in one-dayers. They are strike bowlers and powerful hitters and allow skipper Alastair Cook the luxury to play an extra batsman.

Batting a concern
For India, batting remains the main concern. And, for a side so heavily dependant on its batters, it has spelt disaster. The addition of youngsters to the line-up was expected to act as the catalyst. But they too failed to impress in the one-off T20 game. Only debutant, Ajinkya Rahane, made it count with a half-century, and in all likelihood, should open the innings with Tendulkar.

It has been Dravid's summer. He is playing his first one-dayer in two years, but he will not be short on inspiration. Coach Duncan Fletcher will be hoping the beautiful setting at the Riverside Ground inspires his players. The magnificent 600-year-old Lumley Castle provides a stunning backdrop to the Durham County Cricket Ground. Hopefully, India have recovered from the T20 shock.

First Published: Sep 03, 2011 00:02 IST