Kotla ODI: Can India avenge Mumbai?
Mumbai Test was a disgrace, in terms of elementary fielding lapses and a second innings batting collapse. An under-strength England side went on to beat, and quite convincingly, a superpower in its own den.
But public memory is short. If India can, and they should, thrash England in the ODIs, all will be forgiven and forgotten. In much the same fashion as the euphoria witnessed after a massive 4-1 thrashing of Pakistan in the ODIs in February.
But can India really subdue a resurgent England. That too only five days after a nightmarish defeat. If we look at the positives, India definitely can.
If one goes by the past record of coach Greg Chappell in ODIs, then India will in all probability beat what is not really a great one-day side. Remember, England lost the recent ODI series to Pakistan 2-3, and the same side we later pulverized 4-1.
Greg's experimentations may have had the reverse effect in the Test arena, but in ODIs, Australian's boys have always risen to the challenges. Since Sri Lanka's ODI tour to India (Oct-Nov 2005), the Indian team has played 16 matches, losing just 4 of them.
Now this record is commendable as Pakistan is the side which generally beats us in two out of every three matches.
South Africa is a side, which recently climbed a mountain. Not only did they beat Australia in an ODI series, but also made light of a target of 435.
And Sri Lanka. Just few weeks after a massive pounding from India, not only did they edge out South Africa from a triangular series finals in Australia, but also took a game off the World Champions in the best-of-three finals.
If India can match these three sides, a series with England should be a cake-walk, going by the recent ODI form.
Dravid is cool, calculative and not really sentimental when it comes to the good of the team.
"If Kumble can go out and not complain, no body should complain (if they are rested)." This statement shows the man means business.
Captaincy for another year, a reward for his untiring efforts, will be another incentive for Dravid to prove the selectors right.
With some of his peers and contemporaries, Tendulkar, Kumble, Laxman and Sourav not there for the series, the Indian captain will have reasons not to be sentimental about the team's composition.
India's Lillee and Thomson
One devastating spell from Munaf on the fifth morning of the Mohali Test showed what his is capable of.
And in the very next Test at Mumbai, Sreesanth (in his first spell) went on to bowl a few of his deliveries even faster than Munaf.
Munaf's toe-crushing yorkers and Sreesanth's impeccable line will be more than a handful for the English.
For Greg, these two are the Indian version of Lillee and Thomson. Still short on speed, but not on overall impact.
The Graph is up...and thanks to two UPites.
Kaif has been a proven performer in the ODIs while Raina has proved his worth whenever he has been given a chance.
In fact, two of India's recent wins (against Sri Lanka at Pune and Pakistan at Multan) have come only thanks to Raina's cool nerves in the middle after India's top order had crumbled.
But these two are also capable of stalling the opposition from scoring. Their brilliant throws and catching can put brakes on any opposition…at virtually any stage of the match.
These positives should take India far. But the gameplan should also be to get past the negatives.
India missed about fifteen chances in the Mumbai test. And the biggest culprits were youngsters Dhoni and Yuvraj. Both floored four to five chances each.
England captain Flintoff was given as many as four lives in the second innings, with the first coming when he had not opened his account.
The inspirational captain went on to make a fifty, and England set a psychologically intimidating target of 300-Plus in the fourth innings.
Had India grabbed the first chance coming of each England batsman, they would not have been chasing more than 150 to 200 in the fourth innings, and the Indians' mindset would have been totally different.
Giving just once chance in ODIs can potentially cost the match. So India must not take their eye off the ball, whether batting or fielding.
Tendulkar's soothing presence will not be there. After all, he had given momentum to India in the ODI series against Pakistan with some great knocks.
Sehwag may have recoverd but India can not expect too much from this talented, but out-of-form batsman. However, on his day Sehwag can simply destroy the bowling.
Gautam Gambhir is living on borrowed life. Some recent big scores in the 1st class cricket have thrown him another lifeline, but an average of about 25 in ODIs does not do justice to his talent. People discuss scores, not talent, at the end of the day. Gambhir is capable of rising to the occasion. Will he?
Raina, Kaif and Pathan. They all can open and might get a chance. India will hope that the curse (Tendulkar's absence) will turn out to be boon?
Set it right!
Setting scores has been India's Achilles heel in the recent internationals. While India may have lost the Karachi Test and the battle of Mumbai after putting the opposition in, they have lost in ODIs whether they have opted to bat, or were put in by the opposition.
Four of India's losses beginning the series against Sri Lanka have come after they chose (or were put in) to bat. Sri Lanka were brilliant in chase at Ahmedabad while Pakistan even better at Peshawar. South Africa got the better of India at Hyderabad and Kolkatta.
So how to set it right will be India's biggest headache. Else, they must win the toss four out of seven times against England!