Looking for Mumbai high
Battle for pride may sound clichéd but India are now used to the term. England seek to save face while India aim to deliver another punch at the Wankhede Stadium. Nilankur Das reports. Match reckonerUpdated: Oct 23, 2011 02:51 IST
Battle for pride may sound clichéd but India are now used to the term playing at home against England. Since the tied series in 2002, England have won just one One-day International in India going into Sunday's match at the Wankhede Stadium, the venue where the visitors had dramatically squared the series almost a decade back. But now 0-3 down in the five-match series, pride is the remaining fuel in the tanks of Alastair Cook's boys.
They have a long tour of the sub-continent ahead with series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Coach Andy Flower now has two matches without pressure to polish his team. Just that losing these matches could further deflate the morale of this young side.
There is pride at stake for India as well. Only a 5-0 drubbing of the visitors at home will act as a balm after the ignominy of defeats in all formats during the English summer. Not that the India team are thinking that way. Ajinkya Rahane, who addressed the pre-match media conference on Saturday, said India were strictly taking one game at a time.
Fans may give it a miss
But stakes will be higher when the historic ground is brought into the equation. This is where India lifted the World Cup on that euphoric night of April 2. This will be their first match here since. However, nothing short of a win will satisfy the Mumbai fans, although not many of them are expected on a Sunday afternoon that could be utilised for last-minute Diwali shopping.
Keeping those two points in mind, MS Dhoni is unlikely to make sweeping changes to the team. One forced change would be the replacement of the injured Umesh Yadav. Karnataka's Abhimanyu Mithun has been drafted into the squad, but it would be unfair on Jharkhand quick Varun Aaron, travelling with the squad since the tour of England, if he does not get to make his debut on Sunday. He will also have competition from S Aravind, the left-arm pacer who can add a bit more variety to the pace attack.
The other player dying for an opportunity would be Manoj Tiwary. But his inclusion would mean Dhoni will have to tamper with the combination a bit. He may replace opener Parthiv Patel. However, Tiwary had failed opening the innings in the West Indies and giving him a middle order berth would mean an in-form batsman will have to sit out, which is unlikely.
There are not too many slots to experiment with in the England line-up. The sole point of debate would be whether to continue with Craig Kieswetter, who has been a shadow of his usual self on this tour. His poor show behind the stumps as well makes his spot the most vulnerable. Jonathan Bairstow can keep wicket but that would mean England would have to ask Ian Bell to open.
Ten years is a long time but England live in the hope that history would repeat itself at the ground where the last India-England tie went their way.
First Published: Oct 22, 2011 23:49 IST