India still seek elusive win
Match factsSeptember 11, Lord's
Start time 1015 (0915 GMT)
Big PictureIndia landed in England on July 13. Over the last two months they have lost eight players to injuries, many others have lost form, and an equal number didn't even bring it to begin with. Their No. 1 ranking is gone, the Twenty20 international was lost, and now they can't even win the ODI series. The frightening part for them is that things could still get worse from here. This match is their last chance to win an international in England; the final game is in Wales.
In terms of disastrous tours, this one ranks right up there with the ones to Australia in 1991-92 and 1999-2000, to South Africa in 1996-97 and to the West Indies in 1989 (leaving aside the tours before India started winning Tests). Yet, except for the West Indies in 1989, they managed to win something on the other tours. Here all the silverware they carry is Rahul Dravid's Man-of-the-Series award in Tests and Ravindra Jadeja's Man-of-the-Match from The Oval ODI. It could still be argued, a bit cruelly, that for all his heroics, Dravid wouldn't have won his award but for the England norm to present a series award to a player from both teams.
Then again cruel is what this trip has been. The weather has interrupted at crucial moments, killing the first ODI with India in ascendency, reducing the second to a near T20, a format where England are world champions. It could be argued that the Duckworth-Lewis method helped India in the third ODI, but their momentum was stalled just when they were making a comeback and the damp outfield negated the spinners to an extent.
All that doesn't mask England's ruthlessness at the fag end of a long season. If they stunned India with their unwavering will in the Test series, complacency and contentment have been conspicuous by their absence so far in the ODIs. Unlike their winter Ashes tour, where they emptied their tank in the Tests, England have fuel left in reserve here. Craig Kieswetter has brought freshness to the top of the order and the pitch for The Oval ODI suggests they can produce green tracks without any fear of a backlash from India's attack.
Lord's, though, is usually a flat track, but weather forecasts that suggest a 60% chance of precipitation could spell further trouble for the visitors. If it helps, two of India's most famous wins have come at Lord's: the World Cup final of 1983 and the 326-run chase in the 2002 NatWest final.
Form guide(Completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlightEven in the worst of circumstances, even when India are fielding with the opposition at 700 for 2, there is one man who suggests there is no place he'd rather be. Suresh Raina showed more of that in the field at The Oval, when the specialist spinners were all but bowled out. He tied the batsmen down with the ball, dived around all over the place in the field, and delayed England's eventual win. However, it's with the bat that he can lack the will to fight through long testing periods. It's possible he is the designated counter-attacker in the ODIs, but starting with the West Indies tour, he has been out too many times trying to slog in the middle overs to continue to play the same way and must adapt to the situation once in a while. Of course, there are doubts as to whether he has the game to do that.
When James Anderson gets it right, he can win ODIs on his own. He was a man who would have rather been elsewhere during the World Cup on flat tracks in the subcontinent. On helpful tracks, though, he is back to enjoying it with the ball and in the field, where he is as good as they make fast bowlers. All he needs now is killer final spells at the death.
Team newsEngland's batting can prove shaky against turn even in England, but they aren't likely to change the XI that won at The Oval. If at all, they could call in Samit Patel for Ben Stokes, who is not bowling at the moment and whose early rushes against spin haven't been too encouraging. Ravi Bopara has surely earned himself another game after a 41-ball 40, and as has been the case with Bopara, it is one game at a time.
England (probable): 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alastair Cook (capt), 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Ravi Bopara, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Jade Dernbach
India's ordinary bowling pushed them out of their comfort zone, and it proved to be a good thing. Less than a day after his arrival in India, the bowling allrounder Ravindra Jadeja held onto the champagne given to the Man of the Match. He will surely play at No. 7, but will India continue to tease those who have been clamouring for a debut to Varun Aaron, who is supposed to have pace? If that happens, at whose expense will it happen, RP Singh or Munaf Patel?
India (probable): 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Parthiv Patel, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Praveen Kumar, 10 and 11 two out of Munaf Patel, RP Singh and Varun Aaron
Pitch and conditionsExpect a flat pitch at Lord's, but overhead conditions are likely to be grey with spells of rain. Add to it an early start, and conditions - as it should be - hand an advantage to the home side.
Stats and trivia
- India have managed just four century partnerships across all the international games on the tour combined. England managed four in the first Test alone.
- India have won four and lost two ODIs at Lord's.
- Captaincy has made MS Dhoni a more responsible batsman; his strike-rate as captain falls to 82 from an overall 87. Alastair Cook has had to prove a point vis-à-vis his pace, and strikes at 96 per 100 balls as captain as opposed to 78 overall.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo