Australia v India, 1st T20, Sydney February 1, 2012

Similarities with England tour continue

A limited-overs game in which rain plays a part in your defeat. It is all looking awfully familiar for India

India last played in Sydney about a month ago. During that Test, R Ashwin, the India offspinner, complained about how everybody was already finding similarities between India's tour of England and their trip to Australia, and how it was a deterrent to India that people were already talking about a 4-0 whitewash. A month later, India's first night of limited-overs cricket on this trip already shares eerie similarities with the limited-overs leg of their England tour.

Unseasonal rains have made their appearance again. Even though India - for a change - got the toss right on a rainy day, and correctly chose to field first, it rained only when India were bowling. By the time Australia came out to field, the clouds had disappeared, and the only towel seen on the field was the one India threw in. MS Dhoni, who has now gone 14 international matches away from home without a win, saw the similarities too.

"The weather played a big part in it [the loss in Sydney]," Dhoni said. "In England we didn't win any tosses, it rained in the second innings and our bowling suffered because of that. This time I won the toss, and with the rain forecast I thought we would chase. I though the pitch would remain the same, if not get better, and 170-odd runs was a good score to chase if the pitch remained the same.

"We got off to a good start but after that it didn't rain. It started to turn and grip, and the odd ball was bouncing more than the normal delivery. It was difficult."

However, while India may have had a valid-ish excuse about being on the wrong side of the weather, the selection of their XI was incongruous with the forecast. They picked two specialist spinners to go with three part-time spinners. They could have played the seaming allrounder, Irfan Pathan, if they wanted to pick two specialist spinners. As it turned out, the spinners found it hard to grip the ball, and went for 108 in their 13 overs.

The medium-pacers, though, did worse, going for 62 runs in their seven overs, with Praveen Kumar not even finishing his full quota of overs. Matthew Wade, the Man of the Match, said India's spinners were more difficult to negotiate than the seamers. That severely hampered spinners were better than the quicks says a lot about India's plight in the match.

"We wanted to pick Rahul Sharma because he did really well in the IPL, and if you look at his bowling analysis he did the job he was supposed to do," Dhoni said. "I think all the spinners did well. I think [Ravindra] Jadeja was a bit expensive but we always play him because he gives us balance. The part-timers also contributed. [Suresh] Raina bowled two very good overs before he was expensive in the third one. Overall it went our way because in between we were able to pull the game back towards us."

The similarities with the England tour continued when India came out to bat. Rohit Sharma's tour of England lasted just one ball when he broke his hand in his first match there. Here, he was bowled off the pad first ball. The pitch did become difficult to bat on, but 31 runs was too emphatic a margin of defeat.

After a night that bore so much resemblance to the England tour, India will hope to avoid one dreaded similarity with that trip: going winless.

In England, the whitewash in the Tests was put down to injuries. In Australia, though, India continued to lose Tests even when not missing any of their stars. The losses in the ODIs in England were put down - and not without merit - to not winning tosses in rain-affected matches. Here, India won the toss in the first game, and still lost emphatically.

Dhoni, though, said that he wasn't reminded of England when on the field. "At that point of time you think of how to get through the adversities."

India need to get through the adversities sometime soon because when that winning feeling is denied for long enough you kind of forget how to get it back.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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