England in India 2008-09 November 14, 2008

Captains face battle of hooks and looks

The one-day and Test series in India will be Kevin Pietersen's first overseas assignment as England captain © Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni are the centre of attention as England prepare to tackle India, writes Angus Fraser in the Independent.

Dhoni and Pietersen are the team's sexiest and most flamboyant players. They are entertainers, the type of cricketers fans here flock to see, and India's insatiable media cannot get enough of them. Each has the ability to thrill, combining the power, skill and daring needed to play an endless array of breathtaking strokes. They happen to be the captains of the two teams too. Each is inexperienced and over the next six weeks it will be fascinating to watch how they cope with the pressures that come with leading a team.

This is likely to be the biggest test Kevin Pietersen will face as England captain," writes Nasser Hussain in the Daily Mail. It is all very well winning against South African players he knows well in English conditions, but a tour of India will tell us whether he is maturing as a leader heading for the Ashes - or is about to receive a major setback.

Graham Thorpe, Surrey's new batting coach, claims that success in India is all about playing the right angles, writes Lawrence Booth in the Guardian.

"The angles are different out there [in India]," he says, echoing a theme expounded in these pages yesterday by Duncan Fletcher, who presided over Thorpe's self-denying masterpiece at Lahore eight years ago. "Sometimes you can be playing on a pitch that doesn't turn much, so your angles are down the ground. But if the pitch does turn, the angles change. If you're looking to hit through midwicket then you almost need to be aiming through mid-on because the ball turns at such a sharp angle.

For a big fast bowler capable of bullying the world's best batsmen with his 90mph lifters, Steve Harmison cuts a nervous presence in Rajkot's Imperial Palace Hotel as he prepares for England's first one-day international against India, writes Derek Pringle in the Telegraph.

There are many who say that Sourav Ganguly couldn’t have timed his retirement better, writes Geoffrey Boycott in the Hindu. However, personally speaking, I think he still had quite a bit of Test cricket in him. I think he should have played against England and then toured New Zealand, too, but then I’m no one to comment on his personal decision.

This is a team [India's] of mostly raw youngsters, which gives England its best chance to win a couple of quick games at the start of the series. While these young players may turn out to be excellent prospects for India, I’m not sure all of them have the ability to fill the very large boots left vacant.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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